Braves: Nick Markakis expected to return Friday but in new role

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Nick Markakis has been throwing for a while now since fracturing his wrist back in late July. The initial diagnosis was that he would miss 6-8 weeks, and he’s stayed on that path to return every step of the way. On Wednesday, Markakis hit live batting practice for the first time since the surgery and said he felt “great” afterward in an interview with 680 The Fan.

By all accounts, Markakis had no problem doing what he does at the plate – smack liners all-around the field. Manager Brian Snitker was one of the many impressed, leading him to say, “I felt like we could have put him in there today, and he would’ve been fine.”

According to reports earlier in the week, the plan was for Markakis to return to the lineup on Friday as long as there were no setbacks. David O’Brien of The Athletic confirmed that notion tonight in his most recent article. However, he also included an interesting little nugget regarding how Markakis will be used differently than he has his entire career.

The veteran outfielder has spent 2,015 of his 2,066 career games in right-field, where he has been a Gold Glove Award recipient three times, including last season for the Braves. But according to David O’Brien, the plan is to continue to play Matt Joyce in right-field against right-handed pitchers with Markakis shifting to left-field. Markakis will be in the lineup against lefties as well, but it will be his choice whether he wants to play right-field on those days.

Joyce is capable of manning right-field and is one of the hottest hitters on the team, which will take some pressure off Markakis defensively. Since August 13th, Joyce is slashing .365/.467/.603 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Against lefties, it could be Johan Camargo or Austin Riley taking his spot, whoever is hot. Camargo has played right-field at times this year, and Riley has recently been testing the waters out there in Markakis’ absence. Although, Camargo is currently day-to-day with a right shin contusion.

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