Braves Center Fielder Michael Harris II Exits Game With Stiff Back
By Fred Owens
Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II left tonight’s game in the top of the fourth., with the Braves on top 2-0. Harris singled in the second and stole base but got up slowly following the slide. He showed no other signs of injury and played the third including without any indication of a problem.
The Atlanta Braves Harris reported lower-back stiffness, and while it wasn’t thought serious, they removed him as a precaution.
In 2022, Harris played 114 games and batted .297/.339 /.514/.853 with 19 homers and 64 RBI. His eight defensive runs saved and six outs above average marked his center-field defense as among the league's best. Harris and Spenser Strider finished one-two in NL Rookie-of-the-Year voting, with Harris edging his teammate out by 34 points.
Harris is off to a slow start this year, batting only .227/.292/.273/.563 entering tonight's game, but he's played stellar defense, ribbing a home run during the St Louis series to silence Cardinal fans in their home yard.
The Braves acquired Hilliard from the Rockies in November in exchange for Dylan Spain. He has a career line of. 212/.295 /.423/.718 and knows center field well, playing 599 innings there for Colorado since 2019. Hilliard hits righties better than same-sided hurlers but has a reputation for solid defense in all three outfield positions. He got his first hit as an Atlanta Brave with a single in the fifth.
That's A Wrap
The Atlanta Braves were wise to avoid risking their 2022 Rookie-of-the-Year this early in the season. Hilliard and Kevin Pillar are center-field capable defenders, though neither has the speed of Harris. They also have Eli White at Gwinnett currently crushing baseballs against AAA pitching, slugging 765, and posting a 1.115 OPS.
We will have an update on Money-Mike tomorrow, but at worst, it appears to be a day-to-day situation that the Braves can cover. As soon as there's an update, we'll post it here in The House That Hank Built.