“He was a good leader, a good presence in the clubhouse and he meant a lot to the city of Atlanta,” lefty Tyler Matzek said. “Everybody loves him. He’s a great human being, first off, and an even better baseball player.”
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud said he’ll miss Freeman’s entire family. He always used to sit next to Charlie, Freddie’s son, on the field as the boy ate ice cream after games. D’Arnaud said he’ll miss the little things like that, the personal ones, even more than Freeman’s on-field presence.
“I came into this organization because of Freddie,” he said. “Calling games against him was exhausting. Finally not being able to do that, I was able to sleep at night. Now it looks like I’ll have a couple more sleepless nights.”
The Braves have lots of young talent, from Ronald Acuña to Ozzie Albies to Austin Riley. They’re more experienced now than, say, two years ago, which could lessen the blow of losing Freeman.
You can’t replace someone like Freeman, but you can perhaps combine to help do so.
“These guys have grown a lot the last few years, and they’re continuing to grow and experience things,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Probably all our young guys now are at a good spot in their life and their career to withstand something like this and know the importance of continuing to prepare and be consistent, and do everything that they’ve been doing.”
What did Freeman mean to the franchise?
“Well, normally not all these cameras are on me,” d’Arnaud said. “He’s normally the one to stand up, and he was our voice. The city loved him. I’ve never seen a stadium chant for anybody as loud as they did for him.”
Albies was sitting at his locker in the clubhouse Monday when outfielder Cristian Pache walked in and told his teammates he had been traded. No one knew what was going on, but they soon found out about the huge trade.
They knew it meant the Braves would not be re-signing Freeman, which shocked them.
“We’re going to miss him,” Albies said. “Business is business. I hope he keeps doing what he does best: Being Freddie.”
Ronald Acuña progressing well
“If it was up to me, I’d say I’d be ready for opening day, but we all know it’s not my decision,” Acuña said Monday.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Monday said Acuña, who is working his way back from a torn ACL, probably won’t be able to play in the field until late May. That means the Braves must have a contingency plan until then.
Snitker repeatedly has said that he’s received encouraging reports on Acuña. The outfielder, who suffered the injury in July, said he’s at 95% in terms of speed and strength in his recovery.
“It was honestly a really difficult process,” Acuña said of his recovery. “It kind of got to the point where I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to play again, just because those injuries are just so hard to come back from. The way it was feeling at first was really challenging, but I would say around the fourth or fifth month was kind of when I sort of got that feeling, like things started to turn around.”
Max Fried on being Braves’ MLBPA player rep
Max Fried is the Braves’ MLBPA player representative, which means he had quite the offseason.
“Definitely a little hectic,” he said. “We had a lot of conversations, and it was definitely an interesting time. First time I kind of got thrown into it, so it was nice to be able to kind of keep in touch with these guys and try to get something done.”