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Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Nick Markakis has informed the Braves that he plans to return, after initially opting out of the 60-game-season.
This is major news for a team that had designs on being a World Series contender entering the season. It should also a steadying, if not positive, impact to a lineup that has struggled out of the gate. The Braves tried and failed replacing the outfielder by signing former Dodger Yasiel Puig, who then tested positive for COVID before Opening Day, and was not signed.
Markakis has been a poster boy for consistency and considering the slow start from young star Ronald Acuna Jr. and perennial all-star Freddie Freeman, the return should ease the pressure. Markakis was one of the first players to opt out of the short season, citing that he was siding with caution after an “eye opening talk” with Freddie Freeman (who tested positive for COVID before opening day).
The news of baseball being able to keep the virus out of opposing clubhouses after the Miami Marlin fiasco seemingly gave Markakis the confidence to make a safe return. At 36-years-old, health risks become more of a concern if he manages to contract the virus. Understandable for him to play the slow game.
The addition of Markakis back into a young Atlanta Braves offense should prove to be an immediate game changer. The Braves come into Wednesday night’s game in third place; with a clear need to get guys like Acuna on track as he is hitting just .143 and swinging and missing like our roommates on Tinder.
Markakis won’t stand behind Acuna, like your tee-ball coach shouting tips, but he should lay a band-aid over the shoddy start.
No telling when Markakis officially reports to the Braves, but his next appearance will change the landscape of the NL East.