Freeman excited for his first spring game; Braves using most regulars for first time


Freddie Freeman was in the lineup Monday for his first game of Braves spring training, which meant the veteran slugger tossed and turned throughout the night.

“When you love baseball, you love it,” he said. “It’s just part of it. It’s the first game, so I’m excited.”

Freeman played four innings and hit the ball hard in his both of his at-bats Monday, a single to center in the first inning and line drive into a double play in the third inning of a 2-1 win against the Nationals in the Braves’ home opener.

“It’s like after the first week you just put him in a freezer, because he can probably hit with a week’s worth (of at-bats), he’d be ready to go,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Not even that many. I remember Bob Horner was the same way. It’s why (Freeman) is elite.”

Ozzie Albies and Kurt Suzuki had two hits apiece for the Braves and Julio Teheran pitched two scoreless innings (two hits, two walks) in his spring debut.

Freeman, who’s played seven opening days, made two All-Star teams, finished fifth and sixth in National League MVP balloting and was recently rated the second-best first baseman in the majors, still gets the adrenaline pumping in anticipation of an exhibition game in late February.

“I woke up four times during the night, like the first day of school,” Freeman said Monday morning, four hours before the first pitch against the Nationals in the Braves’ Grapefruit League home opener. “I kept looking outside to see if it was still dark outside.  It doesn’t matter if it’s spring training, it’s still the first game and it’s always exciting. “

He smiled and added, “Now, talk to me in three weeks and I might be a little over this.”

By then Freeman expects to have all the games and workouts he needs to be ready for the regular season. The Braves played three games before Monday, all on the road and featuring bus rides of more than two hours to Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach. Manager Brian Snitker left his veterans back at Braves camp in Lake Buena Vista to do full workouts those three days rather than take the bus south.

“It’s been great,” Freeman said of the unusual start to the spring schedule. “I think I’m slated to play 20 or 21 games this spring, so I’m still going to get my 50 or 60 plate appearances. That’s all you really need. Plus we’ve got a lot of young guys, so it’s good for them to get some ‘show’ time and let the coaches see them too.”

Some notably youthful and inexperienced lineups and pitching staffs lost all three games on the road to the Mets, Astros and Nationals the past three days. Monday was the first game of the spring for most Braves regulars including Freeman, Ender Inciarte, Tyler Flowers, Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki, as well as Monday’s starting pitcher Julio Teheran.

The Braves’ lineup looked a lot like one that many believe could be the regular lineup by the end of April, with the exception of having both catchers Flowers and Suzuki in it. (Suzuki was designated hitter Monday, since teams don’t have their pitchers hit early in spring training.)

Braves lineup Monday vs. the Nationals:

  1. Ender Inciarte CF
  2. Ozzie Albies 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman 1B
  4. Tyler Flowers C
  5. Nick Markakis RF
  6. Johan Camargo 3B
  7. Ronald Acuna LF
  8. Kurt Suzuki DH
  9. Dansby Swanson SS


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves put Soroka back on DL, promote Santana
Braves put Soroka back on DL, promote Santana

Mike Soroka just came off his first disabled list stint. He’ll now experience his second. The Braves placed their prized 20-year-old righty on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, the same reason he was sidelined before returning against the Mets on June 13. Soroka made two starts since he was activated. He carried a no-hitter into...
Braves fans responding to first-place team
Braves fans responding to first-place team

The Braves’ surprising first-place position in the National League East has fueled a recent rise in attendance and an even sharper rise in TV ratings as many fans seem to shake off the team’s four consecutive losing seasons.  The Braves sold out their past three home games, marking the first three-game sellout streak at SunTrust Park...
LISTEN: Anthopoulos on surprising Braves and plans going forward
LISTEN: Anthopoulos on surprising Braves and plans going forward

After three consecutive seasons with at least 90 losses during the team’s much-chronicled rebuilding project, the Braves have turned things around in their first season with Alex Anthopoulos as general manager, sitting in first place in the National League East and on pace for 95 wins. Anthopoulos talked with the AJC’s David O’Brien...
Acuna to begin rehab assignment soon
Acuna to begin rehab assignment soon

As the denizens of Braves Country eagerly await the return of phenom Ronald Acuna, the energizing rookie outfielder went through a third consecutive day of rigorous injury-rehab workouts Wednesday at the team’s spring-training camp outside Orlando. The big news: He’s much closer to returning, probably no more than a day or two from starting...
Braves fans not impressed with game experience on Facebook 
Braves fans not impressed with game experience on Facebook 

Atlanta Braves fans were generally unhappy before the Braves-Blue Jays game aired Wednesday exclusively on Facebook Watch. They weren’t too thrilled following the online broadcast either. Rate your experience: Fans took to Twitter to express their opinions on the streaming service immediately after the stream concluded on Wednesday.  The...
More Stories