MIAMI – Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has ditched his glasses and switched back to playing in contact lenses again, hoping the latest medicated eyedrops will keep his dry eyes from becoming irritated again.
“I’m going with contacts now,” said Freeman, who a week ago said he was done with contacts and would wear glasses on a permanent basis for the forseeable future.
“I can’t see in glasses,” he said Wednesday.
By that he meant he couldn’t see to hit. He explained that glasses made for him by Oakley, with peripheral correction all the way to the frameless, curved outer edges, had a “blind spot” caused by the nosepiece when he looked at the pitcher from the angle he does while in his closed batting stance.
“That’s why you never seen anybody with glasses when they hit,” he said.
Freeman went 1-for-2 with an RBI single Wednesday before leaving the game with a injured left index finger, from being hit by a relay throw as he was sliding into second base in the fourth inning. He will have it X-rayed on Thursday.
In his first game wearing the glasses May 30, he had three hits including a homer and three RBIs in a 10-7 win against the Cardinals at Turner Field. But Freeman went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in his next two games during the weekend at Washington.
After Monday’s off day in Miami, Freeman decided to switch back to the contacts for Tuesday’s game in the controlled, windless environment of Marlins Park, with its retractable roof closed. It was after playing a May 4-6 series in the windy, low-humidity conditions at Colorado’s Coors Field when Freeman’s dry-eye condition was exacerbated and he ended up with corneal abrasions from his contacts.
Freeman hit .364 with 14 extra-base hits (six homers), 25 RBIs and a 1.084 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 19 games from April 17 through May 6. Then with his vision blurry at times and uncomfortable on a daily basis, he hit .164 with six extra-base hits (two homers), nine RBIs and a .566 OPS in his next 19 games through Sunday at Washington.
After switching back to contacts for Tuesday’s game, he went 2-for-5 and scored two runs in the Braves’ 11-0 series-opening win. Perhaps more importantly, a day later he said his eyes felt fine Wednesday. He wore his glasses all day, then put in some of his new drops and put in his contacts before going out for batting practice before Wednesday night’s game.
Freeman said he wouldn’t know until later if his problem will crop up again once the Braves get back outside. He hopes the new drops take care of it.
If following this ongoing saga is starting to wear you out, imagine how Freeman feels as he continues to explain the machinations of his vision problems and sundry attempts at finding a solution. All while dealing with the frustration of having the hottest three-week stretch of his career be followed immediately by one of his worst slumps.
He was cordial but kept answers brief to the vision questions Wednesday. Which was a lot more than Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had to say about the matter.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Gonzalez said, smiling. “If I hear another thing about the contacts, the goggles, or the [bleeping] wind, I’m sending him to Gwinnett.”
He was kidding, but the essential point was clear. Everyone with the Braves, most of all Freeman, wants this ongoing story to have a good ending — and soon.