With Chipper out, Freeman gets call to hit third

SAN FRANCISCO — Rookie Freddie Freeman’s rapid progress made him the hitter that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez turned to Saturday to fill Chipper Jones’ important spot in the order.

Not bad for a rookie hitting eighth a week ago.

Before going 1-for-5 on Saturday in his first stint in the 3-hole, Freeman hit .349 with a .462 on-base percentage in his previous 15 games, including 8-for-20 with three homers, six RBIs and seven walks in his past eight.

He has struck out only once in the pasta 10 games.

“Freddie’s hitting third today, huh?” Jones said. “Well, he’s the hottest guy in the lineup.”

Freeman, 21, has impressed with his defense since spring training, but in recent weeks his approach at the plate has drawn increased praise. Particularly his plate discipline and ability to use the whole field, to drive the ball the other way.

“He’s comfortable right now,” Jones said. “He’s not trying to do too much. He’s staying within himself and getting it done. There’s nothing better than a major league hitter with confidence. He’s got it.”

Jones believes the Braves have a keeper in the genial young Californian, whom he envisions having a long and productive career.

“I think he’s going to be a .300 hitter in the big leagues,” Jones said. “He’s gonna run into his 20-25 [home runs]. I just like the way he spreads the ball around. He can hit the ball from foul line to foul line. His first concern is not being a home-run hitter, which is good. And defensively he’s been outstanding.”

Asked if it was easy to forget Freeman was so young, Jones smiled and said, “Well, he’s big as a house, so that makes you forget he’s 21. The future is solid. The future looks solid, let’s put it that way.”

Venters’ strong return

After resting his sore left biceps for two days, Braves reliever Jonny Venters pitched a perfect eighth inning in Friday’s 4-1 win, continuing a dominant stretch for the left-hander. In his past eight appearances, he has limited opponents to an .038 average (1-for-26) with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 scoreless innings.

64 comments Add your comment

Knox Harrington

April 23rd, 2011
9:52 pm

pasta 10 games!

Braves fan in Woodstock

April 23rd, 2011
9:54 pm

@Knox: Haha, I read the same thing. That darn spell checker is on the fritz again!

David from Athens, AL

April 23rd, 2011
9:59 pm

Thanks DOB … enjoy your coverage of team!

reckingball

April 23rd, 2011
10:01 pm

I am hoping that the Braves are breaking out of their hitting funk.
It looks pretty good today.

Dennis Reynolds

April 23rd, 2011
10:06 pm

Ive said it before and ill say it again. Freeman, while not possessing the tools Heyward has, is a far superior hitter at this stage of their careers. Heyward is a very good player, but could’ve learned a thing or two in AAA. He needs to quit thinking he’s got to hit homers every at bat.

zorro

April 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm

now i’m hungry

reckingball

April 23rd, 2011
10:18 pm

Braves are on a winning streak!
GO BRAVES!!!

Phillyrotation

April 23rd, 2011
10:27 pm

All is looking well except #5 hitter . . . will it ever end???? I think he needs to play winter ball so he will be ready this time next year instead of using up space making outs every at-bat. Move him to #9 in the order (after the pitcher). If that don’t work send him to AA Miss.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

JD

April 23rd, 2011
10:43 pm

DOB musta had a little Italian food on his mind tonight huh? look, Uggla HAS to get that stick going, he’s really stinkin’ it up, posting an 0-fer today. Why hasn’t FG given him the JHay treatment yet and made him sit a game? DU struck out twice today in 4 trips to the plate, which means his pitch selection process still sucks. Can’t tell from the box scores if the K’s were swinging or watching since i didn’t see most of the game, lets hope they were swinging outs anyway.

and just WHAT is the deal with McLouths’ throwing arm out in CF anyway? does he have a bad rotator or what, because he has no gun whatsoever out there.

Ralph

April 23rd, 2011
10:45 pm

Abreu and Merk both still have 0.00 era’s, how many more game winning HRs is Linebrink going to give up before he hits the road?

Virginia Brave Fan

April 24th, 2011
1:17 am

Venters is the best pitcher – starter or reliever – on the Bravos staff.

LAG

April 24th, 2011
1:59 am

We were all excited to get Dan Uggla on our squad, knowing that he would provide the RH power we so desperately needed and wanted. We would put up with his oft-maligned defense, which so far this year has been better than advertised.

In all the excitement, we forgot about the fact that he averages a little over 150 Ks a year. No Brave has ever struck out that much (Andruw Jones has the record with 147).

David O'Brien

April 24th, 2011
2:07 am

David from Athens, AL: You’re welcome. Just doing the job, but I appreciate the kind words.

Goldy

April 24th, 2011
2:30 am

DOB — You quoted Fredi as saying he was worried Venters would kill McDowell or Porter the other day. Was that because Venters badly wanted to be used again after being rested for two games because of is arm soreness? Or because they were the ones who had to play catch with Venters, who is so nasty he can’t throw straight if he tried.

[...] Braves sat #3 hitter Chipper Jones on Saturday and called on rookie Freddie Freeman to hit third. Freeman has hit well over the past two weeks and has only struck out [...]

STRETCH

April 24th, 2011
5:29 am

Im just curious, how many games will Chipper play this season? And i hope they have a better plan than Prado at third, i like him but the Braves are really going to miss Chippers bat.

Pete

April 24th, 2011
6:01 am

this was only the third time this season the braves have won 2 straight. They have not won 3 straight this season yet.

hop

April 24th, 2011
6:34 am

one has to keep their fingers cross that chipper can play most of the season,if not might not make the playoffs!

reckingball

April 24th, 2011
6:49 am

Maybe the Braves can extend the streak to three, today.
I think they will.
GO BRAVES!!!!

reckingball

April 24th, 2011
6:50 am

Maybe, they will get another one of those “sore-arm” Giants pitchers again today.

DeafGary

April 24th, 2011
7:29 am

Chipper needs to fade into the sunset (NOW!!) and let the youngun’s take over!!

mathman

April 24th, 2011
8:04 am

Got to get a RH bat who can play OF up soon. Might be Mather or Ramirez.

longtimefan

April 24th, 2011
8:25 am

Uggla will be fine. He is a known slow starter. There is a concept called “return to the mean”. It applies to many facets of life including financial markets, housing prices and sports. When there is a short term aberration in pricing, or in this case plate productivity, a correction will occur to return to the long term mean. In this case a player in his prime who has been very consistent at the plate over the last 5 years will eventually go on a tear and raise his batting average. And lay off Chipper. What else does a player have to do? The guy is a lock for the HOF, one of the 3 best switch hitters to play the game- and is playing great in the field, hitting and has missed one game. Why do some of you guys stay on him?

ShenValley VA Fan

April 24th, 2011
8:51 am

Re the Mather/Ramirez question, who has the better speed? I hope Fredi considers that, along with the other considerations, when selecting callups. I’d like to see the day when 3 or 4 batters are a threat to lay one down when the opposing pitcher gets in a groove. A successful bunt sometimes changes the dynamics of the game.

bailer

April 24th, 2011
8:52 am

Happy Easter Guys.

An Adult

April 24th, 2011
9:22 am

@Longtimefan It’s called ‘regression to the mean’ but other than that you are correct

braves fan forever

April 24th, 2011
9:34 am

Well it is good to see Freeman stroking the ball well.They need to get there throws up a little bit when they throw to first or he is going to pull a groin muscle strecthing out so much to get throws,Heck the one chipper threw the other day he had to do a split.Heyward and Uggla both will start hitting the cover off the ball very soon.We do need bench help though.Young and hicks are just not seasoned enough for me.With JJ and Beachy pitching well to go with the other starters we have we will be in most all of the games.If we hit the way this lineup should,we will be a hard team to beat.The rest of the division has had the opportunity to run away from the braves.They didn’t do it.I think it is a big mistake and a month from now they all will be looking up and the Braves pulling away from the rest of them.Go Braves.

Horner's Corner

April 24th, 2011
9:59 am

DeafGary-

I don’t want to be a Chipper hater, but I kind of agree with your comment. The Braves don’t lose much offensively with Chipper out the line-up and it creates a slight improvement defensively. More importantly, it allows Gonzalez to be as creative as he wishes with his line-up (yesterday being a perfect example). Currently Gonzalez is forced to build his line-up around the 3-spot out of deference to Chipper’s track record. (Apparently paying him $14M isn’t enough respect). Chipper is still a great hitter, but not in the same manner as he was a decade ago. Personally I would love to see him batting 2nd, with McCann (3rd), Uggla (4th) and Heyward (5th) all moving up a spot in the line-up.

Dr Henry

April 24th, 2011
10:15 am

Easy guys, Uggla WILL hit….remember the May Troy Glaus had last yr. after a horrible start….If he had stayed healthy we would have won the division.

VooDawgChile

April 24th, 2011
10:25 am

“Jones believes the Braves have a keeper in the genial young Californian, whom he envisions having a long and productive career.”

I thought Freeman was a Georgian, you keep hearing about him and Heyward playing High School ball against each other. Who is the Californian you speak of?

Metro Coach

April 24th, 2011
10:35 am

VDC-Heyward and Buster Posey played high school baseball around the same time. I think they might have played in some high school all-star games against each other.

Fab-Five Fredi

April 24th, 2011
10:35 am

VooDawgChile: For clarification…McCann and Frenchy played against each other in HS. Freeman and J-Hey were roommates in the minors and got to be good friends.

VooDawgChile

April 24th, 2011
10:37 am

thanks, I guess I just heard it wrong

David O'Brien

April 24th, 2011
10:42 am

Metro Coach, Heyward and Posey faced each other only in a Georgia high school state championship series, when Heyward was a sophomore and Posey a senior.

David O'Brien

April 24th, 2011
10:43 am

VooDawgChile: Freeman is from Villa Park, Calif., an L.A. ‘burb.

MailBag Drag

April 24th, 2011
11:05 am

No matter what Freddi Gonzo does, there will be somebody out there that is “outraged” by it and is calling for his “replacement”. Come on guys, let the team do their jobs. Everything will fall into place (that’s all you had to say longtimefan). I will bet the Braves will be in 1st place at some point in this season and will go to the playoffs.

1991 braves

April 24th, 2011
11:07 am

You gotta be excited about Freeman and the home grown talent the braves have. Mccann, Heyward,Freeman,Venters,Hanson,Kimbrell,and the other young arms in Gwinnett. If only Wren doesn’t do what he normally does and panic and trade some of this talent. Maybe Wren will wise up and dump some of the older guys with big salaries, and build around this nucleus of talent with a couple of competent middle relievers and a couple of bench players. The future is bright, but don’t fell comfortable at all with the ownership and the G.M, Bring back Ted Turner and these braves will ROCK!!

MailBag Drag

April 24th, 2011
11:31 am

Somebody will always think they are the smartest guy in the room.
1991 braves: they can’t “dump some of the older guys with big salaries, and build around this nucleus of talent with a couple of competent middle relievers and a couple of bench players”. With younger guys, we need veteran leadership.
P.S.- “The future is bright, but don’t fell comfortable at all with the ownership and the G.M, Bring back Ted Turner and these braves will ROCK!!” There is the prime example of the public school system.

cdog

April 24th, 2011
11:31 am

its started as i predicted.this is the beginning of many games chipper jones will miss because of mysterius injuries or pain.have mercy!

para brave

April 24th, 2011
11:32 am

WTH. a rookie hitting 3rd. Is that the best we can do. Rather have Hinskie playing left and hitting 3rd

bring back blauser

April 24th, 2011
11:41 am

nice to see the batters showing patience at plate for a change it is beginning to pay off. if they continue to do this winning will become second nature keep up the good work

Larry

April 24th, 2011
11:47 am

The Braves are 10-12 guys.

They are who we seers thought they were…a middle of the pack, typical, common, average, mean, ordinary, run-of-the-mill major league baseball team.

With this management style and currently constituted roster they will win 80-85 games only because of their above average starting pitching and superb relief pitching when they have their occasional 4-5 run inning.

If somehow they get a good bounce here or there and win 88-92 games and win a wild card they will get bounced once again by a team that compliments their great starting pitching with speed, contact and situational professional hitters.

They are who we thought they are…at least some of us!

Brohio

April 24th, 2011
12:27 pm

I LOVE PASTA!

Bigwheel

April 24th, 2011
12:29 pm

Larry- and we let’em off the hook!!!! Right?

Pierson Brave

April 24th, 2011
12:39 pm

Wow, such sage minds we have here on the blog. If you are a follower of the Braves you would have known that before the season even started it was stated that Chipper would be getting regularly scheduled days off. Thanks for your attention to details.

john

April 24th, 2011
12:45 pm

-Tejada turned to Ump after swinging thru a Venter’s Pitch and askin ‘”What the hell was that ? Ump shrugged . Great Stuff- Venters threw something over 90 mph that broke down and away from The Right Handed Batter-McCann just smiled.

-Don’t give up on Uggla – he will end 2011 season as the best hitting Second Basenan in MLB, same as 2010- but he might need a game or two sitting on Bench-his Fielding has improved A LOT.

jim

April 24th, 2011
12:47 pm

Why would anyone want to see Hinske hitting 3rd over a “rookie”. Hinske is a decent bench player, but is a MLB career utility player who will hit about 260 with some power. Freeman is the first baseman of the present and future. He is hitting about 350 over the last 2+ week span with 3 HRs and few Ks. If he is putting up numbers like that, then what does it matter how long he’s been in the Major Leagues or how old he is? If you look at their ABs critically you will see that Freeman is already a much better hitter than Hinske.

jim

April 24th, 2011
12:50 pm

John,
No matter how Uggla ends the 2011 season, he is not the best hitting 2B in baseball. That player would be Robinson Cano. Any list of the 10 best (non pitchers) players in baseball would have to include Cano.

UGASlobberknocker

April 24th, 2011
12:56 pm

@Pierson Brave..if you are looking for supreme wisdom, you may be in the wrong place.

David O'Brien

April 24th, 2011
1:03 pm

Still waiting on Chipper/lineup decision, will have it in minutes (if you don’t see it here, check Twitter feed on side of the blog page, since I can’t file straight to blog from phone and might be down in clubhouse)

Bill

April 24th, 2011
1:17 pm

Chipper is in the line-up. Thanks DOB…….

IlliniBrave

April 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

What a difference a year makes, when you can pull out B-Mac and Gonzo from the starting nine and still field a pretty solid lineup! And there’s still Hinske and Brooksie on the bench. Gotta love this year’s edition.

kindergarten math

April 24th, 2011
2:30 pm

As for the perceived slight of Chipper by moving him into the second spot, I believe that an objective look at his stats for the last 2 years would place him hitting second, not third. If Jeter , a certain Hall of Famer, can hit leadoff for the Yankees, there is no shame in Chipper hitting second for us. There has already been mention of his salary as a fact of the organization’s respect for him. Chipper, as a loyal fan who appreciates everything you have done for the organization, please walk the walk of doing what is in the team’s best interest. Go see Fredi and tell him that your first priority is the team’s success and tell him to hit you in the lineup wherever he thinks the team will have the best chance to win. Winning and going back to the World Series with a team and line-up that can win it all will be the best thing you can do for your team, the fans, and yourself. I realize that many players and managers feel that the fans are ignorant on these matters. Fredi recently said that he pays no attention to our comments. I simply suggest that many of us, who were not lucky enough to receive the God-given talents and opportunities that these lucky players have received, do actually spend a lot of time following our teams and thinking about things like lineups. Most of these players are richly compensated to the point that they will never have to work another day after they retire, due to the financial security they receive while playing. I am fully aware that when I say they will not have to work another day, that their current work is playing a child’s game which many of us would do for free. I am neither bitter, nor frustrated. I am simply calling it as I see it and ask Chipper and Fredi to seriously consider the switch.

BILLMAIER

April 24th, 2011
2:34 pm

larry how is this team worse off then last year? and an average team ?the real tommy hanson, tim hudson, lowe, jj, and beachy gives us a great starting 5– add despite bobby not having faith in him last year in that 2-1 win bobby turned into a loss by jerking him- with two oyuts in the playoffs kimbrel may be one of the best relievers in the league add venters, moylan when healthy ohflarety and i belive before the season is over wren willwake up and we will see marek,and abreau in the pen over sherrill, linebrink- so we would have an excellent pen– the hitting willcome around uggla has a proven track record– freeman is showing that he will hit, prado willbe prado again and jason will turn it around– and a top of all that we have a manger that will not overuse his pen, and make good strategy decisons,is more aggressive on steals and hit and runs than bobby ever was and stresses infield practice and fundamentals which we did not have in the past– when all is said and done this team will have a better record– and me more poised to win in the playoffs–with a much better manger– no more stupid decions in the playoofs like last year.

jim

April 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

Kindy Math
Given te lineup as it is playing right now, does it matter whether Chipper is hitting 2nd or 3rd? Moving one of the alternatives to Chipper in the # 3 spot: Heyward, Freeman, or Uggla does not make the lineup obviously stronger right now. Maybe in a couple of months one of these will demonstrate that he belongs in this spot in the order and Chipper’s numbers will slowly decline as the season takes its toll. Then the argument about who belongs in the #3 hole will have relevance.

jim

April 24th, 2011
2:46 pm

Enter your comments here

Dogfaced Man

April 24th, 2011
2:49 pm

So the Chipper injuries have started ? I wonder what took so long ?

Dogfaced Dude

April 24th, 2011
3:00 pm

Ok. Uggla is officially struggling as evidenced by this link :

http://sports.yahoo.com/video/player/mlb/Y_Sports_MLB/24989185;_ylt=AmZrerTbSLdQpdFAnieUIAQRvLYF#mlb/Y_Sports_MLB/24989185

So how long will Fredi go with Uggla underperforming when he was supposed to be the main cog or the offense ? Will Uggla be benched or will he still play if he stays in his slump a long time ?

CBW1972

April 24th, 2011
3:04 pm

Mr. O’Brien, I really appreciate your work — keep it up! A lot of folks just show up here and criticize, but they’re just ignorant schmucks. ;-)

jim

April 24th, 2011
3:11 pm

Dogface,
Who will you play at 2B if you bench Uggla? Conrad? Will Hicks provide more offense than Uggla?

jim

April 24th, 2011
3:14 pm

Also, Chipper’s absence from the lineup yesterday was scheduled before there was ever a mention of an ache or pain. He is back in the lineup today, so the injuries have not yet officially begun!

Joshua

April 24th, 2011
11:30 pm

I guess people are going to have to change McLouth’s nickname from “McOut” to “McGamewinningRBIs”

Phila Delphia

April 25th, 2011
8:35 am

Watching the game Sunday I began thinking . . . they said BC retired last season yet the managing is still the same. Beachy was still going strong and he was pinch-hit for. Then he brings in a reliever that gives up three hits in a row and no one is even up in the pen!!!!!!!! Then after loading the bases he walks in a run and is still out there????????? In a situation such as that, two guys should have been ready so if what happened to the first guy, you don’t have to stay with him until he blows the game–get him out after the second hit!!!

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