Braves manager Brian Snitker smiles 1 day after being hit below the belt by a foul ball

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ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta manager Brian Snitker could laugh Thursday about being hit below the belt by a foul liner off Ozzie Albies’ bat in the Braves’ 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

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The sharply hit foul ball took one hop and reached Snitker so quickly in the fifth inning he didn’t have time to defend himself. But even in the moment, the 68-year-old manager smiled instead of showing any hint of pain.

And, to answer the obvious question, Snitker doesn’t wear a protective cup.

“Without protection? Yeah, I know,” Snitker said, adding he had received multiple text messages about the incident and how he smiled instead of bending over in pain.

“Well, it hit me right below the belt,” he said. “… OK, a little high.”

Snitker said he wasn’t sore when he woke up Thursday but acknowledged he “tensed up” and felt some discomfort during the game. He was able to smile because the ball barely missed hitting him in a more sensitive area.

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Snitker said he intentionally avoided TV Thursday morning “because I said I’m not going to watch this thing.” Snitker’s son, Troy, who’s on the Houston Astros’ coaching staff, made sure the replay made it to his father.

“My son sent me a video of it,” Snitker said before Thursday night’s game against the Giants.

Albies’ at-bat ended with a fly ball to center field. The Braves second baseman immediately walked up to Snitker when returning to the dugout.

“He felt worse than me,” Snitker said. “He’s such a good kid.”

Snitker was a longtime third base coach before becoming Atlanta’s manager in 2016 and leading the Braves to six consecutive NL East championships and the 2021 World Series title. The third base coaching box can also be a dangerous place, and Snitker said he suffered a broken wrist and other injuries when hit by foul balls there.

Snitker said he had another reason to smile immediately after avoiding injury on Wednesday night.

Braves first baseman Matt Olson told Snitker he likely would have been hit by the foul ball if Snitker, standing on the dugout steps, had not been in the way.

“So I said, ‘Well, I’m a hell of a lot easier to replace than he is,”‘ Snitker said. “So I’m glad it hit me.”

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