Sean Murphy, the Braves’ All-Atar catcher, lands on IL with oblique injury

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For the Atlanta Braves, the satisfaction of pulling away to a lopsided Opening Day road win over the Philadelphia Phillies was tempered by news that catcher Sean Murphy will go on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.

Murphy was injured when he swung and foul-tipped a pitch in the seventh inning of the Braves’ 9-3 win Friday. The 2023 All-Star reached for his left side immediately and left the field with a team trainer moments later.

Veteran Travis d’Arnaud will handle the bulk of the catching duties until Murphy returns, which could be as soon as 10 days but often is significantly longer for this type of injury. Chadwick Tromp will be recalled from Triple A to back up d’Arnaud.

“I hate it for Murph,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who added that they wouldn’t know the severity of the injury until Murphy has imaging tests on Saturday. “He had such a really nice end to his spring, was feeling good, and it’s just one of those freak things that happen in baseball. I look around and thank God we’ve got a guy of Travis’s caliber to step in now.”

D’Arnaud, 35, was a first-time All-Star in 2022 with the Braves, before moving to a lesser role last season after Atlanta traded for Murphy from the Oakland Athletics. But d’Arnaud still made 59 starts at catcher last season.

When D’Arnaud sustained his fourth career concussion in April 2023, while he was on the IL Murphy caught 16 games in a 19-game stretch, with Tromp catching the other three. Now, it’ll be d’Arnaud pulling heavy duty while Murphy is on the IL.

But it’s likely Tromp will catch at least a few more games while Murphy is sidelined than he did while the older d’Arnaud was out last season. D’Arnaud caught five consecutive games last June when Murphy was dealing with a sore hamstring.

The Braves have a luxury that few other teams have with two such accomplished veteran catchers.

“It’s great, you don’t care who’s catching because you’ve got two of the best in the game no matter what,” said Braves Opening Day starter Spencer Strider. “But I really feel for Sean. I know he’s upset. Something so random, you know, you just take a swing. It’s something you do all the time, so it’s crazy that it can just hurt you randomly. But he’s going to make it a good thing, and he’s going to become better because of it. And when we get him back, we’ll be excited.”

D’Arnaud said of handling a heavier load for the coming weeks, “I just think of the work that Murph put in in spring training and in the offseason, and for something like that to happen Opening Day, it stinks. I just feel bad for him. As for me, it’s just warm up, go play, cool down, and try to win a ball game. Try to keep it simple as that.”

Snitker said, “When Travis went down last year with a concussion, we had Murph. Like I say, we’re blessed to have two number 1 (catchers) on our club. I just say it for Murph, because he’s done everything right. He’s had a really nice finish to his spring and was excited about getting here. It’s just one of them things that happens.”

(Top photo of Braves catcher Sean Murphy: Brett Davis / USA Today)

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