Ozzie Albies honored his good friend and Braves teammate by wearing his jersey during the batting practice session that preceded the American League’s 5-2 win over the National League in the 2021 All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Coors Field.
As Albies did an on-field interview during the seventh inning of FOX’s telecast, he addressed how much Acuña will be missed as the Braves attempt to silence the many who now doubt they can win a fourth consecutive National League East title.
“We’re going to miss him,” Albies said. “He’s our superstar and he’s the guy who sets the table for us. Every time he gets on base, it feels like something good is going to happen for us. Right now, with the team we have, we’re just going to keep battling and go hard every day to get wins.”
Albies and Freeman enjoyed this week’s festivities knowing greater pressure will be placed on them and other Braves as the team attempts to compensate for at least a portion of Acuña’s absence.
“We are going to stick with our gameplan and do what we can do to help our team win,” Albies said.
Freeman enhanced his memories of this event by lacing a single off Nathan Eovaldi in the fourth inning. The reigning National League MVP is a five-time All-Star who has now started each of the past three Midsummer Classics. But his only previous hit in an All-Star Game was a single off Sean Doolittle in 2014.
Along with recording a hit in his two plate appearances, Freeman entertained the television audience via the on-field microphone he wore while playing the field in the top of the second.
With Aaron Judge about to draw a walk, Freeman said, “Oh geez, if he gets to first base, he’s going to make me look so short. I’m just under 6-foot-5 and I’m about to look really, really small here in a second.”
Still, there’s no doubt Freeman’s best memories of this trip to Denver will be fulfilling his four-year-old son Charlie’s wish to meet Fernando Tatis Jr. The younger Freeman got to meet Tatis in the dugout before Monday night’s Home Run Derby.
“I think I’m Dad of the Year," Freeman said. "That’s what I’m going to name myself. That’s all he wanted, and Fernando, what an incredible person. He’s incredible with kids. He’s an incredible baseball player and an even better person.
[Charlie] was just so over the moon. This is what it’s all about for me now. I’ve been blessed to be here a few times, and now I get to bring my son.”
This was the second All-Star experience for Albies, who will enter the second half tied for second in the NL with 45 extra-base hits.
Albies entered in the sixth inning and grounded out in his first plate appearance. The 24-year-old second baseman then doubled off Liam Hendriks to extend the game with two outs in the ninth. But he was left stranded when Trea Turner grounded out to end the game.
“The week has been great,” Albies said. “It’s been a lot of fun and the fans have been coming out supporting us. I’m just enjoying the moment.”