JUPITER, Fla. – Braves rookie Freddie Freeman has played eight games this spring, and already has a pair of 3-for-3 hitting performances.
The big first baseman went 3-for-3 in Monday’s loss against Florida, raising his batting average to .458 (11-for-24) with a .500 on-base percentage.
He has three doubles, four RBIs, two walks and four strikeouts.
“He’s going to win that plasma TV for the Grapefruit batting title,” joked Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, before adding on a serious note: “He’s swinging it. He really is.”
He’s got four more hits than any other Braves player, but Freeman has impressed at least as much with his glove. He made another scoop on a short-hopped throw to complete a double play Monday.
“I think he’s going to be really good [defensively],” said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, who made his second start and was charged with four hits, one run and two walks with one strikeout in three innings.
“Last year when he came up with us, it was the first time I really saw him throw the glove around a little bit. I liked what I saw,” Hudson said. “I think he’s going to be really good over there, especially once he gets a little more comfortable and starts realizing he belongs up here and he’s going to be our guy over there.”
Hudson couldn’t resist a good-natured jab at the 6-foot-4, 242-pound rookie.
“He’s really smooth, which is surprising because he looks real goofy,” Hudson said. “He’s a goofy-looking little fella. But he’s pretty smooth, and can swing it.”
Braves first-base coach and infield instructor Terry Pendleton said he realized during Freeman’s September callup that the rookie was better defensively than he’d thought.
“He’ll be good out there,” Pendleton said. “He can play. Once he gets his footwork, he’ll be fine; he’s got great hands. We’ve talked about how good he was offensively. I think people will be impressed more with his defense, because he works hard at it.”