PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Braves wanted to make Fredi’s debut a success, and Freddie certainly did his part.
Rookie Freddie Freeman doubled in each of his three plate appearances Saturday against the New York Mets, but Atlanta blew a 5-3 lead in the 10th inning of a 5-5 tie against the New York Mets in Fredi Gonzalez’s Braves managerial debut.
It was also a debut of sorts for Freeman, 21, in his first start as the Braves’ regular first baseman. The 21-year-old hit a double to every field — driving a ball to right field in the second inning, hitting a soft shot to left in the fourth, and lining a hit that one-hopped off the base of the center-field wall in the sixth.
“Freddie had a great day,” Gonzalez said. “Three doubles. Nice three at-bats.”
Freeman’s second and third doubles were two-out hits.
“It felt good out there today,” said Freeman, who also scored the Braves’ first run on a wild pitch by Mets starter Jenrry Mejia in the second inning. “Really I was just trying to see some pitches and track some balls. I got a couple of good swings today.”
On doubling to all three fields, he said, “I was just trying to hit it where it was pitched. Especially that last one, having a two-seamer running away and able to go with it, it felt real good.
“The first one was on a cutter in, and the second one was a hanging curveball that I kind of just flared it over to left field.”
Freeman’s fourth-inning hit followed a two-out, first-pitch homer by Eric Hinske, who drove a Pedro Beato fastball onto a grass berm beyond right field for a 2-0 lead.
“Freeman’s really swinging the bat,” said Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who allowed two hits and no walks in two scoreless innings. ” That’s good. I think we’re going to really need his bat, especially in that lower part of the lineup.”
Freeman hit sixth Saturday in a lineup that didn’t include Dan Uggla, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones or Alex Gonzalez. The rookie will bat seventh or eighth in the regular lineup to start the season.
“If they’re going to be pitching around some people to get to him,” Jurrjens said, “he’s going to be really coming up in a big spot for us. It’s good to see.”