Freddie Freeman didn’t wait until he had changed into his uniform to try out his new sport goggles that arrived at Turner Field Wednesday morning. He opened the box, grabbed assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher, and went into the indoor batting cage in his shorts and collared shirt to see if he finally had a solution to the vision problems that have been ailing him for more than three weeks.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, general manager Frank Wren and assistant general manager Bruce Manno all got the answer shortly thereafter.
“I hear this commotion coming down the hallway,” Gonzalez said. “It was him in street clothes with his goggles on. He had just come out of the batting cage.”
Freeman offered high-fives to Gonzalez, Wren and Manno, changed into his batting practice attire and got the same results on the field, so he was back in the lineup Wednesday night for the first time in five days.
“I had no problems, not even with the first or second pitch, or even the last,” said Freeman, who threw both arms up in celebration as soon as he came out of the batting cage on the field. “It was all great. I really haven’t had a smile on my face lately, but I’m pretty happy right now.”
The sentiment continued right on into the game when Freeman homered in his first at-bat off Kyle Lohse, his first home run since May 17, and snapped an 0-for-11 streak.
Freeman has been battling dry eyes and blurred vision as a result of corneal abrasions he was diagnosed with after playing in the dry air of Colorado May 4-6. He tried multiple sets of contacts, like he’s played in since he was 14, but they irritated his eyes. He tried a readily-made pair of glasses and they didn’t allow him the peripheral vision he needed to bat, with his relatively closed stance.
But the glasses that Oakley specially made for him have lenses that wrap farther around his eye, allowing better peripheral vision.
“The other goggles I could see well in here but when I went out to the field, it was a whole different look, and I couldn’t get used to them,” Freeman said. “This is the same in here as out there.”
Freeman is expecting another two pairs of goggles from Under Armour, to be delivered in Washington on Friday. He said if those are equally comfortable, he’ll use one of those, but for now, he’s gotten the answer he wanted.
And his smile wasn’t going to fade even when teammates kidded him about looking like Chris Sabo, the former Reds third baseman famous for his goggled look.
“I don’t care what I look like as long as I can see the ball,” Freeman said. “You can call me whatever you want.”
Freeman won NL player of the week twice in three weeks before he got to Colorado. He’d hit .150 (9-for-60) in 16 games since entering Wednesday night.