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

For the Atlanta Braves, the satisfaction of coming out on top in a lopsided Opening Day road win over the Philadelphia Phillies was tempered by the announcement that catcher Sean Murphy will go on the disabled list of 10 days due to left oblique strain.

Murphy was injured when he swung and fouled a pitch during the seventh inning of the Braves’ 9-3 win Friday. The 2023 All-Star immediately reached to his left side 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 take as early as 10 days but is often much longer for this type of injury. Chadwick Tromp will be recalled from Triple A to support d’Arnaud.

“I hate it for Murph,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who added they won’t know the severity of the injury until Murphy undergoes imaging tests Saturday. “He had a really good end to the spring, he felt good, and it’s just one of those weird things that happens in baseball. I look around and thank goodness we have a guy of Travis’ caliber to step up now.

D’Arnaud, 35, was first named an All-Star in 2022 with the Braves, before playing a lesser role last season after Atlanta traded for Murphy from the Oakland Athletics. But d’Arnaud still made 59 starts as a receiver last season.

When D’Arnaud suffered his fourth career concussion in April 2023, while on the IL, Murphy caught 16 in 19 games, with Tromp catching the other three. Now it will be Arnaud who does the heavy lifting while Murphy is on the IL.

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

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

“It’s great no matter who catches, because you have two of the best in the game no matter what,” Braves Opening Day starter Spencer Strider said. “But I really feel for Sean. I know he’s upset. Something so random, you know, you just have to build momentum. It’s something you do all the time, so it’s crazy that it can randomly hurt you. But he’s going to make it a good thing, and he’s going to be better because of it. And when we get it back, we’ll be excited.

D’Arnaud said of handling a heavier load for the coming weeks: “I just think about the work that Murph did in spring training and during the offseason, and that something like this happens on opening day, it stinks. I just feel bad for him. For me, it’s just about warming up, going out to play, cooling down and trying to win a ball game. Try to keep it simple like that.

Snitker said, “When Travis was concussed last year, we had Murph. As I said, we are lucky to have two number 1s (catchers) in our club. I’m just saying it for Murph, because he did everything right. He finished his spring very well and he couldn’t wait to get here. It’s just one of those things that happens.

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

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