Atlanta Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman has been cleared to return to the club after his bout with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the team announced Friday. Freeman, 30, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 4, and developed symptoms after being involved in team workouts.
Right-hander Touki Toussaint was also cleared for his return after his positive COVID-19 test. Under MLB's protocol, it's required for a player to test negative twice before being allowed to rejoin their team.
While Toussaint was asymptomatic, Freeman battled a fever, body aches and headaches. Braves teammates Pete Kozma and Will Smith also tested positive for COVID-19. The Braves reportedly were set to sign free agent outfiedler Yasiel Puig. However, Puig announced Friday that he had also tested positive for COVID-19, and, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Puig will not be signing with the Braves.
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season, and shared that his conversation with Freeman about his COVID-19 experience was eye-opening. Veteran righty Felix Hernandez also opted out of the abbreviated season. As of now, 13 total players have opted out.
MLB announced Friday that 10,548 samples were collected during testing this week and six came back positive (five players and one non-player personnel). In the last week, MLB had a five-day period without any new positives. Since MLB began intake testing in late June, there have been 93 total positive COVID-19 tests. Eighty of those positives have been from players.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he has not yet ruled out the possibility Freeman could be ready by Opening Day, but he hasn't made an official decision yet. If Freeman is unable to play in time for the Braves' season opener on July 24, Yonder Alonso, Austin Riley, Charlie Culberson and Adam Duvall could step in at first base.