Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jesse Chavez works against the New...

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jesse Chavez works against the New York Mets during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Atlanta. The Braves signed veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez to a minor league contract on Monday, March 25, 2024, providing the opportunity for the reliever's fifth stint with the team. Chavez, 40, was released by the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. Credit: AP/John Bazemore

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The Atlanta Braves sent reliever Jackson Stephens to Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, clearing a spot on the opening day roster for fan favorite Jesse Chavez.

The 40-year-old Chavez was signed by the Braves a day earlier after being released by the Chicago White Sox, who jettisoned the veteran right-hander after he gave up nine earned runs in seven innings during spring training.

This will be Chavez's fifth stint with Atlanta.

“It's good to be home," Chavez said, choking back tears. “Words can't express how I feel right now. There's so many emotions going on with how I feel about Braves country that it's really tough."

The right-hander was one of the team’s most effective relievers in the first half last season, posting a 1.56 ERA with one save in 36 games. But he wound up missing more than three months after taking a comebacker off his left leg hit by Detroit's Miguel Cabrera on June 24.

When Chavez returned late in the season, the Braves felt he was not as effective as he was before the injury and left him off their postseason roster. After the season, the Braves made no attempt to re-sign him, allowing him to join the White Sox.

Now, Chavez is back in more familiar surroundings for what he says will be his final season.

Stephens was assigned outright to Gwinnett after posting a 3.68 ERA in six appearances covering 7 1/3 innings during spring training. It looked as though he would make the 26-man roster for Thursday's scheduled opener at Philadelphia until the Braves got a chance to bring back Chavez for the long-relief role.

Chavez was first acquired by the Braves on Dec. 11, 2009, in a trade with Tampa Bay for Rafael Soriano before being traded to Kansas City less than a year later.

The Braves again obtained Chavez from the Chicago Cubs for reliever Sean Newcomb on April 21, 2022, before sending him to the Angels later that season in a deal that brought closer Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta.

The Braves selected Chavez off waivers later in the 2022 campaign and signed him again as a free agent heading into last season. He has played with nine teams — five of them multiple times — over his 16-year career.

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