Braves' Nick Markakis Tests Negative for COVID-19, Placed on IL as a Precaution

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis bats during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves announced Tuesday that veteran outfielder Nick Markakis was "potentially exposed to COVID-19" and has tested negative but will be placed on the injured list "out of an abundance of caution." 

The team also called up its top prospect, outfielder Cristian Pache, who will be available to play on Tuesday. 

Markakis is the second outfielder for Atlanta to hit the injured list in the past week, with superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. going on the 10-day injured list Saturday with wrist soreness. That leaves Pache, Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall as options in the outfield.

Markakis, 36, has been excellent in 2020, hitting .353 with a homer, six RBI and six runs in 12 games. He had originally opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a telephone call with Freddie Freeman after the veteran first baseman contracted the coronavirus. 

"Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough," Markakis told reporters on July 6. "It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that's going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes."

But he ultimately changed course later in July and decided to play. 

David O'Brien @DOBrienATL

BREAKING NEWS: Nick Markakis is rejoining the #Braves, having changed his mind since opting out of the season just over three weeks ago. Veteran outfielder is being reinstated from the restricted list.

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

Nick Markakis, who originally opted out but changed his mind to play for Atlanta, was permitted to return only after applying to the Commissioner's office. His reinstatement was approved by #MLB, #MLBPA and Atlanta. Each future case will be handled individually on its own merits.

As for Pache, he's considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. MLB.com has him ranked No. 14 in its prospect rankings, while The Athletic's Keith Law has him at No. 5 overall, calling him "an elite defender in center field, often compared by scouts to Andruw Jones, in part because Pache is also in the Atlanta system but largely a testament to how easily Pache plays the position."

Law added that Pache has "25-homer power" and "may never be an average OBP guy, but it looks like he’ll control the zone enough to hit for average and get to that 25-homer level, while providing grade 80 defense in center field, enough to make him an elite every-day player."