Braves: Catching assignments could vary after Travis d’Arnaud’s injury

Braves injuries

During Saturday night’s loss to the Padres, Travis d’Arnaud suffered a concussion and was placed on the designated 7-day IL for such an injury. Normally, it wouldn’t be something I’m too¬†concerned about, but d’Arnaud’s situation is different. This is the fourth concussion he’s suffered over his major-league career — the first since 2014. Still, head injuries are tricky and can have effects well after retirement. Just because d’Arnaud hasn’t had one in nearly a decade does not mean he and the Braves shouldn’t proceed with the utmost caution.

So while d’Arnaud could potentially return to the lineup this weekend or early next week, I do think his role with the team could change as the season progresses.

Sean Murphy is a savant behind the plate. He’s widely regarded as the second-best defensive catcher in the game, behind only J.T. Realmuto. While he’s an above average major-league hitter, most of his value stems from what he brings behind the plate. The Braves will get the most out of him by starting him at catcher more often than not, and it’s something he’s shown he can handle.

Last season for the Athletics, Murphy started 146 games — 116 of which came behind the plate. He also has proven to be a much more productive offensive player when catching compared to when he has served as a designated hitter.

Through the early parts of the season, the Braves have pretty much split the catching duties between Murphy and d’Arnaud. However, that was likely to change as the season progressed, and I think it will definitely be altered when d’Arnaud returns from the injured list.

That doesn’t mean d’Arnaud’s role with the team will be lessened. He can still catch 2-3 times a week and serve as the team’s designated hitter when he’s not behind the plate. To this point, d’Arnaud has been the DH against lefties, but based on what Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna have show thus far, he would probably be the best possible option against righties as well. It’s probably the best course of action — for the team and for d’Arnaud’s long-term health.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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