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'Leave everything out there': Why this mantra has defined Braves ace Max Fried's rise

Justin Toscano, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Baseball

NORTH PORT, Fla. – Through the years and all they have brought – from the early struggles to a World Series ring to his status as one of the game’s aces – Max Fried has kept close a mantra he told himself when he was younger.

“Every opportunity that you get to take the mound,” Fried said, “make the most of it and leave everything out there.”

Nothing is guaranteed – not even for Fried, who has become one of baseball’s top starters. You see his World Series ring, his inclusion in the Cy Young Award conversation, his nasty stuff, his status as one of the elite arms in baseball, but you might forget about how he arrived here.

Reflecting now, Fried believes he had times in the minor leagues when he “held back” or “was vulnerable” on the mound. Eventually, he took to a certain mindset: “Leave everything that you have out there every single time, you never know if this could be your last.” He freed himself from the tentativeness because he had no other choice.

Before the Braves called him up, Fried was 2-11 with a 5.92 ERA – in Double A. At the time, he had no idea if he would ever reach the majors. All he could do was put everything he had into each outing and each pitch.

“I didn’t know if it was gonna be my last time ever taking the mound, which had been my dream since I’ve been a little kid,” Fried said. “Just kind of taking that outlook or that mentality with me every single year, knowing that there’s a bunch of young kids, people are getting drafted every year looking to take your job, and all that kind of stuff. So you’ve got to stay on top of it and always make the adjustment.”

 

Fried’s spring debut on Monday also provided an opportunity to appreciate his rise. Tuesday marks the seven-year anniversary of his first big-league spring training appearance. He struck out one over a scoreless inning versus the Tigers in Lakeland. “It’s weird because it feels like yesterday, but it also feels so long ago, there’s so much that’s happened since then,” Fried said. Now 30, the lefty has learned a lot.

Years ago, Braves manager Brian Snitker saw a Mercedes E350 in the parking lot at camp. He asked someone who owned it.

“That’s that Fried kid that we got from San Diego,” the person told Snitker.

Since then, Snitker has witnessed Fried’s development from a young prospect to an ace. In his job, Snitker follows the careers of many players, some more memorable than others. Fried’s is rather special.

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