PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Freddie Freeman doubled in his first three spring training at-bats Saturday.
So after a string of first basemen since 1998 — after Fred McGriff left — that includes (but are not limited to) Andres Galarraga, Ryan Klesko, Rico Brogna, Julio Franco, Robert Fick, Adam LaRoche, Scott Thorman, Mark Teixeira, Casey Kotchman, Troy Glaus and Derrek Lee, is it possible this revolving door finally will stop spinning?
I know. It’s only a spring training game. But Freeman, 21, doesn’t look or act like a kid. Much like Jason Heyward did not look or act like a kid last year
It’s Freeman’s third spring training. The awe factor is gone. He’s coming off an offseason workout program that added 12 pounds of granite to his frame. Two of three doubles — to left, center and right fields – against the New York Mets were screaming line drives, the other was a blooper.
His spring training debut last season?
“I struck out,” he said.
Maybe this would be good time to st0p being overly concerned about Braves’ rookies being crushed by high expectations. Last year, spring training was like a one-actor Broadway show starring the car-denting, windshield-crushing Heyward. He responded to the spotlight by homering in his major league first at-bat and finishing second for National League rookie of the year honors.
Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Heyward and Freeman are close friends — as well as co-coverboys of this week’s Sports Illustrated. Freeman said he was helped by seeing how Heyward responded to the attention last season.
“When you see one of your friends do it, it gives you confidence,” he said. “We’re two different people but I feel I’m prepared. And obviously this being my third spring training I’m a lot more comfortable. I’m not at all timid any more.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he’ll likely bat Freeman low in the order so as to not overly burden him. “It’s not going to be a situation where it’s like, ‘OK, this is your job,’” he said. “I just want him to get his at-bats.”
Just guessing: The Brogna-Fick-LaRoche-Thorman-Kotchman parade ends here.
By Jeff Schultz
Previous blogs from Braves’ camp