Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and three of his teammates have tested positive for coronavirus.
Freeman – along with relief pitchers Will Smith and Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma – were among the 31 MLB players to test positive for COVID-19 in the league's first round of testing as teams train for the 2020 season.
The team announced the positive tests with the players' permission in manager Brian Snitker’s press conference on Saturday.
Snitker said that Smith and Toussaint are asymptomatic and are eager to return to training, but Freeman and Kozma are struggling with symptoms, including a fever for Freeman.
"He's still not feeling great," Snitker said of his four-time All-Star. "It will be a while before we can get him back."
Players or staff who have coronavirus are required by league rules to produce two positive tests at least 24 hours apart before they are allowed to rejoin their team.
Snitker explained the club has addressed their players and staff about government-recommended health protocols but noted some habits are difficult to break.
"Yesterday there's times at the batting cages where guys come out and congregate," he said. "A lot of these things, guys don't even know they're doing them, so it's going to take a while for us to [adjust]."
Freeman is entering his 11th season with the Braves, winning a Silver Slugger award last season after claiming a Gold Glove in 2018. The 30-year-old batted .295 last season with career highs of 38 home runs and 121 RBI.
Smith, who turns 31 next week, signed a three-year contract worth $39 million to join the Braves this offseason. The left-handed reliever previously spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants and has a career 2.95 ERA when coming out of the bullpen.
Toussaint made 24 pitching appearances for Atlanta last season while Kozma is a bench infielder on his fifth major league team.
All four players gave the team permission to release their names, a decision that Snitker applauded and hoped would set an example for other MLB players.
"We were talking to them because they have to sign off on us bringing their names out," Snitker said. "I think it's good for the industry and society to know that this is a real deal. This virus is real; it's nothing to mess with."
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