Markakis changes mind, will return to Braves

Markakis changes mind, will return to Braves

Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis changed his mind about playing the abbreviated 2020 season and will be taken off the restricted list.

The veteran announced on July 6 that he was opting out of the season. He made the decision after talking with teammate Freddie Freeman, who was struggling in his battle with COVID-19 at the time.

But on Wednesday, Markakis announced his return after talking to manager Brian Snitker, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his teammates.

“I’d like to come back,” he said. “Sitting at home, watching these guys compete the last couple days and all the risks that they’re taking going out there, in a way, deep down in that pit of my stomach, I felt like I needed to be out there. I had the opportunity to be welcomed back.”

Markakis said he would work to be ready for game action as soon as possible.

The Braves, the back-to-back defending National League East champions, are 2-3 to start the season. They agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig to replace Markakis, but the deal fell through when Puig tested positive for COVID-19.

Markakis was one of two Atlanta players to opt out of the 60-game season amid the pandemic, joining former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.

In November, Markakis agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal for the 2020 campaign after the team declined his $6 million option.

Markakis, 36, batted .285 with nine home runs and 62 RBI in 2019 despite missing 46 games because of injury.

He was an All-Star and a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in 2018 when he batted .297 with 14 homers and 93 RBIs. His numbers through 14 seasons with the Braves (2015-19) and Baltimore Orioles (2006-14) include a .288 average, 188 home runs, 1,031 RBIs and 2,355 hits.

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