If, for some reason, you were worried about Max Fried being ready for the season after his first Spring Training start was delayed due to possible COVID-19 exposure, those concerns should’ve been eased this afternoon. The ace of the Braves staff showed up on Wednesday looking like the same person that finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting last season, and he had a much longer leash than I expected.
Fried threw 51 pitches in his first outing of 2021, efficiently breezing through four frames. He did allow one run in the first inning, courtesy of a Rafael Devers double. But once he settled down, the Red Sox bats could not touch him, as he retired the final eight batters in a row. Here’s what Fried had to say about his first appearance of the spring:
#Braves Max Fried on his ST debut:
"Today I wanted to attack hitters early, get some early contact and get the guys working behind me."
I'd say he did that.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) March 10, 2021
When Fried left the game, the Braves were in the lead, thanks to a Travis Demeritte two-run single in the second — one of two hits for Demerrite on the afternoon, who is fighting for one of the final bench spots. However, the Red Sox were able to turn the tide in the sixth inning when Victor Arano loaded the bases and gave up a grand slam. Arano is another player fighting to make the Opening Day roster, and outings like today aren’t going to do him any favors.
The Braves were held scoreless the rest of the afternoon, but Chad Sobotka and 22-year-old William Woods looked crisp in the final two frames. Sobotka fanned two, and the hard-throwing Woods struck out the side in order. Woods has definitely become a prospect to keep an eye on once the minor-league season begins.
The Braves take on the Rays in their tenth game of Spring Training tomorrow at 1:05 ET.