Phillies get back Tommy Hunter as Braves lose Yasiel Puig
By Matt Rappa
While Tommy Hunter has rejoined the Phillies after his bout with COVID-19, the Braves have lost their recent free-agent signing due to the virus
The COVID-19 pandemic is anything but predictable. While the Philadelphia Phillies recently had one of their players return to health and rejoin the team — after testing positive for COVID-19 — the Atlanta Braves effectively lost their newest free agent signee due to virus.
On Friday, veteran Phillies reliever RHP Tommy Hunter reported to summer camp at Citizens Bank Park, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen.
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Meanwhile, seven-year veteran outfielder Yasiel Puig appears to not be signing with the Phillies’ division rival Atlanta Braves, at least for the time being. The 2014 All-Star shared on social media that he has tested positive for COVID-19, albeit being asymptomatic and feeling “absolutely fine.”
Now, Puig will not be signing with the Braves, as the deal was contingent on him passing a physical and testing negative for COVID-19. According to Jon Heyman, Puig will “re-evaluate things” one he receives consecutive negative COVID test results. Then, the Braves could revisit the signing.
Hunter, 34, appeared in only five games last season prior to him needing surgery to repair a right arm flexor tendon. His first season in red pinstripes, 2018, the 12-year veteran went 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.250 WHIP across 65 appearances, 10 of which finished the game.
Hunter had been one of three Phillies players reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 — joining Scott Kingery and Mikie Mahtook. Three Phillies coaches also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19: bench coach Rob Thomson, bullpen coach Jim Gott and bullpen catcher Greg Brodzinski.
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Kingery and Thomson have since recovered and passed protocols to join the team. Adam Haseley, Hector Neris, and Aaron Nola were among those that were also previously kept away from the team due to protocols, but never tested positive for the virus.
The Braves losing Puig is significant, as they were relying on him to help make up for losing fellow outfielder Nick Markakis, who opted out. Puig hit a combined 24 home runs and 84 RBI last year with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.
Not to mention, former Phillies southpaw ace Cole Hamels (triceps) is not expected to be ready for the start of the season. The Braves did get back first baseman Freddie Freeman and RHP Touki Toussaint (COVID-19) on Friday, however, albeit the little time that remains ahead of next week’s season opener.