ATLANTA—Lefthander Max Fried knew that some days would be better than others once he finally returned to the mound.
While he had run up a 4.98 ERA through nine starts at low Class A Rome, the 22-year-old is excited about simply having the opportunity to pitch after nearly two years on the shelf.
A Los Angeles high school product and the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, Fried pitched just 11 innings in 2014 and missed all of 2015 after having Tommy John surgery. Traded from the Padres to the Braves during his rehab, he has shown signs of re-emerging as the pitcher he was prior to the injury.
Fried mixed good starts with bad at Rome this season, allowing 39 hits in 43 innings while striking out 36 and walking 23.
Fried admits he is still regaining a consistent feel for his pitches, but he is encouraged about the progress his low-90s fastball and overhand curveball are making. He also is developing a better feel for a changeup that will be a key to his long-term success. Otherwise, he said the greatest challenge has been readjusting to pitching on a regular basis.
“Just getting back into the routine of the baseball schedule has been the big thing—the travel and everything associated with that,” Fried said. “I’ve been in extended spring (training) for so long with morning days. Adjusting back to night games is exciting and definitely what I’d rather be doing.”
Fried also feels he is a better pitcher now because of the mental-skills work he did while sidelined. Having the opportunity to put everything to use has the lefthander eager to experience what the future holds.
“I was always thinking of ways I could better my game once I got back (from rehab), regardless of what happened from a physical aspect,” Fried said. “I feel I’m a different pitcher, and a better pitcher, because of everything I worked on while I was rehabbing.”
• Rick Albert and Mike Alvarez, who had been assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League staff, were named manager and pitching coach, respectively, at Triple-A Gwinnett after Brian Snitker and Marty Reed joined the major league club in the wake of manager Fredi Gonzalez’s firing.
• Double-A Mississippi shortstop Dansby Swanson led the system with a .314 average while contributing 22 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases through 45 games.