The coronavirus has already altered the shape and construction of the 2020 MLB season, and now it has dealt the Atlanta Braves a major blow to their World Series hopes.
First baseman Freddie Freeman was one of four Braves players to test positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to manager Brian Snitker on Saturday, who did not need to disclose names.
Reliever Will Smith, young right-hander Touki Toussaint, and shortstop Pete Kozma were also found to have contracted the virus. Only Freeman and Kozma, however, have symptoms.
Per MLB's coronavirus regulations, Freeman will not be allowed to return to game action until he tests negative twice.
Freeman was once again dominant last year, hitting .295 with 38 home runs and 121 RBI on a Braves team that won the NL East. It goes without saying that any length of time without him is going to be a crushing blow. According to Snitker, the Braves could be without him for "a while," as he is currently "not feeling great" and battling the disease in earnest.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies will do their best to carry the team, but Freeman is the engine that makes this team run, and the Braves might be unable to win the NL East if he doesn't come back relatively soon.