ATLANTA – Austin Riley is feeling a whole lot better.
Dansby Swanson? Not so much.
Riley, the slugging rookie for the Atlanta Braves, will not need surgery on his injured right knee and expects to return to the lineup in about two weeks.
He revealed the good news before the NL East leaders opened a three-game series against the New York Mets on Tuesday. An MRI revealed a partial tear that will require him to wear a brace but nothing more. Surgery likely would have ended his season.
“It looks super strong,” Riley said. “(The doctor) was surprised that it was so strong. That’s always good news.”
But Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson continues to rehab a bruised right foot that already has kept him out far longer than the team expected. He went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to July 24 and still is not sure when he’ll be able to return.
“It’s kind of a frustrating injury,” Swanson said. “Obviously, it’s kind of impossible to avoid it because you’ve got to walk and put pressure on it all the time. I’m doing everything I can to get back.”
Manager Brian Snitker said the team thought it was being overly cautious when it put Swanson on the injured list. But he sustained a setback last week, further extending what has already turned into a lengthy absence.
“I mean, he hasn’t taken a groundball in the three weeks he’s been down,” Snitker said. “That’s a significant amount of time to miss. Going into this, no one saw this coming.”
Swanson is hitting .265 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs. Charlie Culberson has done a good job filling in, but the Braves are eager to get their regular shortstop back on the field as they make a push for their second straight playoff appearance.
“I hate it for him,” Snitker said. “He was having really, really solid year, offensively and defensively.”
Riley has been on the IL since Aug. 5 after spraining his knee during a workout.
“It was just one of those things,” he said. “It was an exercise I do every day. But when you feel some discomfort, when something is just not right, it scares you.”
After a dazzling start to his rookie season, Riley had slumped to a .242 average by the time of his injury. Still, he has provided plenty of power to the Braves’ dynamic lineup as a converted left fielder, hitting 17 homers with 45 RBIs.
If everything goes well, Riley hopes to resume batting practice early next week. Then, when the Braves head out on a road trip, he would go to the minors for a brief rehab assignment.
Notes: The Braves called up OF Rafael Ortega from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was hitting .285 with 21 homers in 111 games. The 28-year-old has played a total of 109 games in the big leagues with three teams since his debut in 2012. He has a .236 career average with one homer and 23 RBIs.
To make room for Ortega, the Braves optioned RHP Patrick Weigel to Gwinnett. He has been with Atlanta for eight days over two brief stints, but has yet to make his major league debut.
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