Braves' Max Fried leaves Opening Day start with hamstring issue

Atlanta Braves left-hander Max Fried will miss at least one start after exiting his Opening Day outing against the Washington Nationals on Thursday with left hamstring discomfort, the team announced.

Fried winced as he he ran to cover first base for the initial out of the fourth inning and was removed after 43 pitches. He gave up one run on four hits while striking out two batters.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the 7-2 victory at Nationals Park on Thursday that Fried, last year's runner-up in NL Cy Young Award voting, definitely will miss at least one start and probably will end up on the 10-day injured list.

"This happens. You don't want to see it happen. But if it's going to, I'd rather earlier than later [in the season], that's for sure," Snitker said. "We'll just make sure we get him right."

Fried said he felt something wrong with his leg while he was heading toward the bag on a grounder by Dominic Smith leading off the bottom of the fourth.

Snitker and a trainer went out to the mound to check on the left-hander, who threw one pitch to test his leg before heading toward the visiting dugout at Nationals Park.

"It just kind of grabbed at me," Fried said about the muscle, adding that he didn't think the injury was particularly bad.

Fried was replaced by Lucas Luetge, who earned the victory, with the Braves holding a 4-1 lead.

Fried, 29, is coming off an All-Star campaign in 2022, when he went 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA in 30 starts. He was the runner-up to Miami's Sandy Alcantara in voting for the NL Cy Young Award.

"It's obviously frustrating. You want to start off on a good foot and get a good rhythm going. But you obviously don't want to push it too early, 'cause there's still the entire season left," Fried said. "So trying to find that happy medium of pushing it to get back ... to help this club out, but also not push it too far where you miss more time."

He didn't allow a run in four spring training starts, striking out 19 in 14 1/3 innings.

It was his third consecutive start on Opening Day for the Braves, who have won the past five NL East titles.

"I felt great. Felt like I had a really good rhythm," Fried said. "Felt like it could have been a good one."

Snitker thought the same.

"Max was so good today. He was so good. Throwing the ball so well. I hate that. It could have been a real nice, long opening day start for him," the manager said. "So I hate that for him."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.