Braves aren’t worried about Freeman’s early slump

MILWAUKEE – His first week as the Braves’ starting first baseman was not easy for Braves rookie Freddie Freeman, who went 1-for-4 on Thursday against Milwaukee and actually raised his batting average by 25 points.

That’s because he was hitting .105 when the day began.

The Braves knew that the 21-year-old would struggle at times, but are confident that he will make adjustments and thrive, much like he did at every level in the minor leagues.

“To me, and talking to L.P. [hitting coach Larry Parrish], it looks like he’s expanding the strike zone a little bit, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Probably trying to create stuff that’s not there. That’s the case sometimes with young players.

“He’ll look at some film and L.P. will look at some film, kind of settle him down a little bit and he’ll get going. He’s hit everywhere he’s been, and he’s going to hit.”

The Braves are counting on Freeman as a lineup regular and have no plans to platoon him or have another player get more than an occasional start at first base. Eric Hinske started Tuesday, but that was more to get Hinske at-bats than to rest Freeman.

The big rookie has started six of seven games and .130 (3-for-23) with a double, one RBI, two walks and six strikeouts.

Freeman has flashed his considerable defensive skills already with the Braves, scooping balls and using his 6-foot-4 frame to stretch for errant throws.

He made a questionable play in the seventh inning of Thursday’s loss, when he fielded Prince Fielder’s bases-loaded grounder and threw home instead of getting the sure out at first base. Rickie Weeks scored ahead of the throw to push the Brewers’ lead to 4-2.

“I think it would have been difficult” to get the out at home, Gonzalez said, “but with him and his arm – for me he’s not a normal first baseman. He’s got range and he’s got a plus-plus arm. So… I’m not going to get on him about needing to get the out at first base, because I’ve seen him do some stuff that other first basemen cannot do.

“Maybe if he charges it and makes a little better throw, he might be out at the plate.”

As far as hitting, Freeman had a pattern in the minor leagues of struggling initially after a promotion. He did it when he was bumped to Double-A two years ago, and slumped at the beginning of the 2010 season at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Once he got acclimated, he excelled. He hit .319 with 18 home runs, 87 RBIs and a .378 on-base percentage in 124 games at Gwinnett.

He had only 24 at-bats and four hits in a September callup with the Braves, but one of the hits was a long home run off Phillies ace Roy Halladay in Philadelphia.

69 comments Add your comment

kelly

April 7th, 2011
8:20 pm

kelly

April 7th, 2011
8:21 pm

The kid is gonna be fine.
And so is this team.
MK

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 7th, 2011
8:32 pm

how about the whole dang team is in a slump….another pathetic, pathetic outing today.

groundfog

April 7th, 2011
9:02 pm

I’m getting alittle more encouraged with Mclouth. I hope he can build some confidence as well

Ray

April 7th, 2011
9:36 pm

Braves are never worried about anything. if he’s hitting .200 on 8/31, they’d still say he needs time to adjust.(I don’t think it’ll come to that though)
they aren’t worried about Hanson or Jurrgens either.

bobbymahlon

April 7th, 2011
9:42 pm

I have concerns about our lack of hitting but I hope Fredi doesn’t hit the pantic button too quick. Let give it 25 + games and see how we do and don’t forget we have payed all 7 games on the road.

Braves fan in Augusta

April 7th, 2011
9:44 pm

I HOPE they stay with Freeman… He’ll be fine

Raw Onion

April 7th, 2011
10:00 pm

How can you be in a slump if you were never hitting well to begin with. As I recall, he didn’t do much when called up last year either. I am not sure he will ever be anything more than a .240 or .250 major league hitter and that will not cut it.

urban redneck

April 7th, 2011
10:01 pm

little freddie’s gonna be fine, and so is big fredi. no worries.

just ironing the kinks out. i’m only a little worried about minor, but i believe he’ll take care of his problems at gwinnett. go bravos!!!!

BornADawg

April 7th, 2011
10:03 pm

Sounds like the same old thing with Hanson as last year. He consistently puts this team in the hole in the first three innings. Granted, we need to score some more runs but Hanson’s ERA in the first three innings is atrocious. May be time for the Braves to re-evaluate this pitcher and send him down to Gwinnett to work on a few things. Personally, I have never been impressed with him but then, I’m no manager so what do I know, just an opinion.

rc35

April 7th, 2011
10:06 pm

I tend to agree with Raw Onion. Futile Freddie hasn’t ever hit in the majors. His call-up last season was a bust and he’s starting out the same way. I haven’t given up hope for his future, but whatever promise he showed in AAA hasn’t panned out against major league pitching. But, except for two games, the Braves haven’t hit since the last week of Spring Training, anyway.

[...] Perez and Randall Delgado are all chips that any team would love to have. That said, the Braves aren’t at all concerned about Freddie Freeman’s early struggles. Freeman has struggled in the past when he has been [...]

HAL

April 7th, 2011
10:35 pm

anyone not worried about bp hanson is an isiot plain and simple his fastballs straight and below ave.velocity his sliders flat and he cant control it he cant hold runners and cant bunt other then that hes the future of the franchise lol

N8

April 7th, 2011
10:58 pm

Are they worried about the lack of clutch hitting? Are they worried about Nate? or anybody other than Mac? Even with their decent numbers, Heyward and Chipper have been inconsistent at best. Uggla? 2 HR and 2 RBI after 7 games?

I thought we got rid of Glaus? :-)

I said it this winter (after the Uggla trade). If Wren and Fredi honestly believe that this team will live and die by what Freeman does (I don’t think they do – but some fans want to act like he’s more important than he is), then we are in for a LOOOOOONG summer.

Freeman should be afforded the luxury of breaking in at his own pace like Javy did. Like Klesko did. Like Andruw did (how many remember he played LF in 97 while we had Lofton in CF), and even like Chipper did.

Freeman has Prado (and all-star who led the league in hitting for most of 2010), Nate McLouth another veteran all-star/GG winner, Chipper (he must be good, he’s batting 3rd, right?), Uggla (2nd only to Pujols the last 5 years in HR for RH batters), Mac (the best hitting catcher in all of baseball the last 5 years, Heyward (the runner up to Pose in the ROY voting and the 2nd coming of Willie Mays) and Gonzo, one of the better hitting SS in the NL.

If the other guys in the lineup pla to their “average” season, Freeman could bat .105 for the year and it wouldn’t matter.

Give the kid a break.

Start blaming the guys that SHOULD be hitting better than the are.

Owl Hunter

April 7th, 2011
11:48 pm

First of all, we are in week one of a roughly 26 week long season. Also, to say that Freddie “hasn’t hit major league pitching” is ridiculous when you consider his 43 WHOPPING MAJOR LEAGUE AT BATS!!!

Owl Hunter

April 7th, 2011
11:48 pm

Please educate yourselves.

gotigers72

April 8th, 2011
1:15 am

Hanson has been terrible in both starts so far. Even after the first two innings when he gave up all of his runs, he was all over the place, behind in the count on just about every batter and just not a decent pitcher at all.

He needs to get back to where he was for the last 1 1/2 months last year. His stuff is plenty good enough, he just needs to get it over and stop falling behind in the count so much.

Not a band wagon fan

April 8th, 2011
1:27 am

Freddie Freeman is another Scott Thorman. You do not see major league batters grip the bat the way he does. It is identical to the way Thorman did it. Scott Thorman was absolute raw strength, but never hit for power. The home runs he did hit were never “wow” shots. Freddie is a little stronger than Scott, but he has a serious flaw in his swing and I am surprised it has not been addressed. Look how Heywards’ knuckles line up and then look at Freddie’s. He is losing power by the blemish in his mechanics. I hope I am wrong and I hate unjustified complaints, but I do not think Freddie will pan out this year as a FULL time MLB player. He will end up being platooned.

ChopChamps95

April 8th, 2011
1:38 am

@N8

Andruw actually played RF for a large portion of the 97 season. He only played LF twice the whole year. Not trying to split hairs just a minor correction I’d bring to your attention.

wekk

April 8th, 2011
3:48 am

well what do u expect? do you think they would say “yeah, we are worried about this kid and how he’s gona do the rest of the year”? typical coach speak, FG is good at that.

Hobbes

April 8th, 2011
4:35 am

Geez, you people are ridiculous. Freddie Freeman will never be a good hitter? Tommy Hanson should be sent back to AAA? I sincerely hope that you’re all joking, but I’ve been reading comments on DOB’s blog long enough to know that’s not the case. IT’S APRIL, PEOPLE. SHUT THE HELL UP. I mean, did any of you watch the same team I did last year? To have an April that was THAT bad and still lead the division for most of the season proves that a team with a 3-4 record should not be given up on. Give Freeman and Hanson a break. There’s a reason that everyone who actually knows what they’re talking about around the baseball world says that they’re two of the top young players in the league. I’m betting they know more than you.

Home opener tonight. I can’t be there because I’m about 3000 miles away, but I want to hear you from here, Atlanta. Go Braves!

IMissYunel

April 8th, 2011
4:55 am

Hobbes sounds like one of the guys who was boasting that Freddie Freeman has a better plate approach than Jason Heyward. How’s that working out for ya? Lmao. Though, admittedly it is still early.

Hobbes

April 8th, 2011
5:05 am

Never ever ever ever EVER would I say that. Why would you put words in my mouth? All I’m trying to say is that you people should give Freeman a break because we’re SEVEN GAMES INTO THE SEASON. Every hitter goes through slumps, plus he’s trying to adjust to major league pitching, which any idiot could tell you is vastly different from the pitching at AAA. I will never understand why you would want to write him off as a poor hitter already. Nor why you would miss Yunel right now…

David O'Brien

April 8th, 2011
5:40 am

Damn, seeing that sunshine and those short-sleeve shirts on the Masters highlights, I’m ready to get home to Atlanta and those upper-70s temps this weekend. Flying out of Milwaukee in a couple of hours, and it’s 40 and raining right now.

tim

April 8th, 2011
6:19 am

FF should have started the year at AAA. McSucks should have started the year with another team. And thank you Liberty for being so freakin CHEAP that you won’t make a trade or sign anybody that cost more than a dollar. Don’t think the Braves will break out of thier slump this weekend against the Phillies staff

tim

April 8th, 2011
6:19 am

FF should have started the year at AAA. McSucks should have started the year with another team. And thank you Liberty for being so freakin CHEAP that you won’t make a trade or sign anybody that cost more than a dollar. Don’t think the Braves will break out of thier slump this weekend against the Phillies staff

JUSTA WIN

April 8th, 2011
6:27 am

AND YOU DIDN’T WORRY ABOUT SCHAFER EITHER…WHEW

milesarcher33

April 8th, 2011
8:53 am

Freddieb Freeman obviously is not ready for the major leagues. Give him another two weeks and then send him down.

Don

April 8th, 2011
9:06 am

“Braves arn’t worried about Freeman’s early slump.”
How can you call it a “Slump” when Freeman has not yet shown that he can hit major league pitching????

Donovan

April 8th, 2011
9:14 am

Tommy Hanson is not that good of a pitcher. When you have a delivery like a mechanical throwing machine in a batting cage or your delivery is similar to a batting practice coach, everyone figures you out very quickly. It fooled a lot of hitters early on when he was first introduced, but that was then. Braves management has a long sorry record for keeping personnel active long after the show is over. Still early in the season? This type of pitcher will hurt the team all season long.

bvillebaron

April 8th, 2011
9:23 am

Just as I predicted and posted at the end of spring training, it wouldn’t take too long (a whopping 7 games out of a 162 game season, all on the road) for the arm chair batting coaches, managers and all around geniuses to come to the fore and start bashing Freeman if he got off to his usual slow start. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but as David said, Freeman’s history at every level in the minors is that he struggles for about a month or so with each promotion and then adjusts and starts hitting. He was dreadful the first month in Gwinnett last year before posting the numbers mentioned in David’s article despite being one of the youngest players in the league. I assume that none of you critics recall how poorly Pedroia hit for the first 6 weeks after his promotion to the bigs a couple years ago. Fortunately for him and the Red Sox, managment and the coaching staff showed a little patience with him.

Kashi

April 8th, 2011
9:36 am

Me too. STOP this none sense crap now. Leave the kid alone. Lets talk about Alex Gonzo. Isn’t he suppose to be a hitting machine when we traded Escobar to Blue-Jay?

monty

April 8th, 2011
9:38 am

What’s not to like about FF that a couple of baseknocks won’t cure? He flashes the leather and he’s a big strong, what, 21 year old????

Fredi's Fu Manchu

April 8th, 2011
9:47 am

Freeman will be fine. Hanson on the other hand is a bust (I’m calling it early). He’s a 4, not a 1or 2. Not to mention I see serious elbow/arm issue soon. Get what you can and run.

bill

April 8th, 2011
9:47 am

one of two things is going to occur; Freeman and McLouth both continue to be busts and everybody will know that the preseason concerns were fact based or Freeman will breakout . McLouth is as dead as a corpse he just is still standing. We are committed to Freeman and his psyche needs patience. McLouth needs to move out of the way and give someone else a chance. No Outfielders were brought in that can play everyday. Some teams have parted ways with big contracts for worthless players but not the Braves. It is early for the rest of the team but McLouth is late and getting later. Will somebody sit down with the third base coach and tell him to pay attention to the game and situation. Sending Chipper home was inexcusable. I am a Braves fan win or lose but I sure like winning better.

Fredi's Fu Manchu

April 8th, 2011
9:48 am

Tommy Hanson is Gavin Floyd in a few years.

Brave New World

April 8th, 2011
9:49 am

Raw Onion and rc35 need to cut Freddie some slack. They probably have forgotten when they were new to something – it takes time to adjust. Freeman will be fine,

Lemke's Knuckler

April 8th, 2011
9:51 am

This is the time were I blame football. The average American sports fan has been conditioned by football to put so much importance on one or two games, that everyone now freaks out about the standings in baseball after the first two series. Baseball is one of those sports where the ONLY way to judge performance is to look at it over the long-term. To compare to football, the Braves have played 7 out of 162 games, or 4.3% of the season. Compare that to a 16-game football season, and the equivalent is .69 games, or a litte over mid-way through the third quarter of the first game. Exactly the time to panic about the whole season, don’t you think?

bascogcjs

April 8th, 2011
10:05 am

I don’t like Hanson’s throwing motion.
He throws stiff likes he’s throwing darts.
Does anyone else think the same?

Elliot Garcia

April 8th, 2011
10:08 am

Anybody else notice that Escobar is batting .474 in Toronto……

Pierson Brave

April 8th, 2011
10:17 am

The sky is falling, sky is falling. Run for the hills! Relax people this is the first week of the season.

jerry

April 8th, 2011
10:46 am

bascogcjs ,,,,Yes, I do most definitely. It looks wierd.

bbkorbel

April 8th, 2011
10:48 am

Same here with Hanson…all arm & no body behind it.

Mike B from Long Island

April 8th, 2011
10:48 am

Could not agree anymore! Trading Yunel was dumb!

Philly Phanatic

April 8th, 2011
10:52 am

Maybe Rico Brogna or Casey Kotchman can step in and hit .200

Owl Hunter

April 8th, 2011
10:54 am

Yeah, because Hanson was awful last year. No way he could ever pitch well. Of course, most of you probably still think that pitching Won/Loss records still mean something. You are ignorant babies, and add to the streotype of Braves fans being among the worst in baseball.

Scout

April 8th, 2011
10:55 am

Escobar? We have Gonzalez & all those strikeouts !

Elvis Andrus should be playing SS in Atlanta, but thats another story …

John

April 8th, 2011
10:56 am

It is annoying that we traded Yunel because he would make several completely boneheaded plays a season. Two years ago he was out best hitter before struggling a little earlier. I thought this at the time, not just because he has started off so well this season.

John

April 8th, 2011
10:56 am

CORRECTION: Two years ago he was our best hitter before struggling a little early last season.

Scout

April 8th, 2011
10:57 am

Hanson has regressed. He’s lost the velocity and needed movement off his fastball.

I predict his career will be short in AStlanta.

James

April 8th, 2011
11:02 am

I said all along bad PR drummed up by Joe Simpson got Yunel traded. When your announcer can rile up the good ole boys and get them in a fever then it is hard to be in Georgia. Trade Joe Simpson and Chip Carey. I don’t think there is a worse announcing crew in sports. As far as Freddie Freeman goes – he never has looked ready. Chipper needs to go to first, Prado to third and lets address the dang issue that has been a sore thumb for years – the outfield. By the way Yunel is a future all-star, and Gonzoles is old. You can’t win a pennant with the third base side approaching 40.

John

April 8th, 2011
11:05 am

Simpson did seem to hate Yunel and zero in on everything negative he did where other players could get away with bigger errors.

Chuck M.

April 8th, 2011
11:05 am

You Guys can’t blame TP now,I suppose its LP”s fault that the Brave are not hitting?

Owl Hunter

April 8th, 2011
11:36 am

James

I can understand wanting Yunel back, but you’re exaggerating your points quite a bit. First of all Alex is 34, not quite apporaching 40. Freddie has 43 major league at bats. What makes him not look ready? He didn’t hit early last season in AAA (which I realize is different from the majors), and went on to crush the ball later this season. You’re basing his whole repitoire on an extremely small sample size. Do some research. You can do it from your armchair.

We’re one week in, people. We had a lousy April last season, and we wound up doing pretty well.

Owl Hunter

April 8th, 2011
11:36 am

Oh, by the way, fire Bobby, fire TP, and I don’t think this Greg Norton guy is a very good hitter.

jw

April 8th, 2011
12:21 pm

I hope you guys realize that we lost 9 games in a row last year and still made the playoffs. You cannot expect the team to go through the entire year without hitting a rough patch…or a hot streak for that matter. What? You don’t like the outfield or the first baseman? Maybe we should have gotten Carl Crawford and Adrian G. Oh wait….

Ty Cobb

April 8th, 2011
12:22 pm

Braves lack contact hitters; too many free swingers and too little team speed. Its an organizational wide problem, and has been for years.

RKCola

April 8th, 2011
12:38 pm

Majority of the people who comment on this blog are a bunch of bandwagoning morons.

David O'Brien

April 8th, 2011
1:08 pm

Nice stepping out of that ATL airport into warm, humid Southern air….

James

April 8th, 2011
1:17 pm

Owl Hunter
You and I both know Alex is not the star he used to be but instead a stop gap until someone else is ready. Also, you and I both know there is a wide gap between minor league and major league pitching. That is Freddie Freeman’s problem. We will see if he can adjust.

NickGranite

April 8th, 2011
1:33 pm

Alex may be “just” 34 but he has batted a whopping .236 in his 79 games with the braves. When i see him come up in a clutch situation, i just cringe because I can already see him fishing for whatever lousy toss the pitcher get’s this numbskull to chase.

Owl Hunter

April 8th, 2011
1:42 pm

James

Talk to me at the end of the month. We’re one week in. Nyger Morgan is batting .462. It’s too early to tell about anything.

Bobby's chaffeur

April 8th, 2011
2:19 pm

Red Sox are supposed to win it all……. 0-6 First 6 games. I hope they dismantle the Sox and get some new players. These so called braves bloggers are idiots. freeman sucks, Hanson sucks, .. Get a life the Sox will be fine and the Braves will be fine also… Hey I will be at the game tonight row 5 dugout level wooo hoooo section 108

Chop101

April 8th, 2011
2:45 pm

Braves lost 3 of 4 to the Brew Crew and now the season is over? Just as the Braves will not have won the Division by taking 3 of 4 from the Brewers, their season is not over by dropping the same. Event the mighty Phillies will more than likely lose 3 out of 4 games played during the course of the season and that will be with their highly rated pitching staff.

As for the Braves first baseman, Freeman is a rookie with a lot to learn. Part of the joy in watching the game and following a team is to see how a player develops over the course of a season. Don’t expect every player to come through in every at bat or you will be disappointed more often than not.

The Braves are a good team and the offense will come around. Go Braves!

tomahawknation

April 8th, 2011
3:27 pm

http://bit.ly/h62gve Phillies pitching scouting report

bobby

April 8th, 2011
3:31 pm

The Braves need for more than one of their hitters to hit each day. Except for Prado, the rest of them seem to take turns having a good day.

bvillebaron

April 8th, 2011
5:00 pm

Ty Cobb:

The Braves may lack overall team speed, but your other comment is off the mark. If I recall correctly, the Braves were among the league leaders in OBP last season.

Elliot Garcia

April 8th, 2011
5:21 pm

I am glad to see that I am not the only one that cringes when Gonzalez steps into the batters box….he is done!

chuck huffman

April 9th, 2011
1:45 pm

He did not hit last year when called up. He has not hit this year so–far. I am not ready to pull the plug, but if he does not hit within the next 3-4 weeks the braves had better have a back up plan. Everyone keeps saying give him a chance–but from his swing and motions I do not think he will ever be over a 240 hitter with 10 to 15 homers a year,–not unless he gets some very good coaching and bulks up. I just do not see this player ever hitting over 280–even with great coaching. It looks like he just does not have what it takes to achieve at the major league level.

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