Freeman returns; Folty struggles a bit
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As the Braves traveled to Fort Myers for Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, Freddie Freeman remained back in North Port to test his previously inflamed right elbow with a full workout.
He returned to the Braves’ lineup for Monday night’s home game against the Phillies.
Freeman had been sidelined since his right elbow swelled early last week. The Braves believe the inflammation was a product of the increased activity the 30-year-old first baseman completed just four months after undergoing surgery to have three fragments and two bone spurs removed from his elbow.
As Freeman rested his elbow last week, he said he will now reduce the amount of swings and throws he makes before games. He believes the accelerated activities he completed before playing in Grapefruit League games on Feb. 22 and 23 placed too much stress on his elbow.
“Now we know how much I can do and kind of take it back a bit,” said Freeman, who should still have plenty of time to get at least 30-plus plate appearances before the Braves open the regular season on March 26 in Arizona.
Given the fact that he ended last season by recording just one out during his start against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, Mike Foltynewicz would have liked to have cruised through the early portion of the Grapefruit League season.
But after retiring just four of the 10 Red Sox he faced on Sunday, Foltynewicz had to focus on the reality he still has time to right himself and realize more promising results over his four remaining Spring Training starts.
“Right now is really not the time to get mad, but it kind of gets annoying, especially when you’re just trying to get through a couple innings,” Foltynewicz said. “The goal was to get through three innings today. We couldn’t get there because of some bad luck here and there.”
Rafael Devers hit a two-run homer off a pitch down in the zone during the first inning and the Red Sox tallied another run in the first when Foltynewicz surrendered three consecutive soft hits, including a pair of infield singles. He was lifted after his pitch count reached 45 with the one-out walk he issued to Johan Mieses.
“He wasn’t as good as his first [start], but as long as he feels okay, we’ll get him back out there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Right-hander Kyle Wright impressed through the early portion of last year’s Spring Training and then spent most of last season showing he was not quite ready for the Major League level. But there was still reason to get excited about his tremendous potential as he struck out five of the 10 batters faced over three scoreless innings on Sunday.
Wright has retired 15 of the 17 batters he’s faced through two Grapefruit League appearances, and he has seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings. The 24-year-old right-hander is starting to show the potential envisioned when the Braves took him with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
After Wright was placed on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster last year because three starters -- Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman and Mike Soroka -- began the season on the injured list, he made just three starts before being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Wright posted a 9.72 ERA over four starts for Atlanta last year. This year, he could be primed to show why MLB Pipeline ranks him No. 52 on its Top 100 prospects list.
“I think I feel more confident in him this year after everything he went through,” Snitker said. “The fact he has another year under his belt allows you to have a better feel about him. I feel he’s going to have a better feel for what he’s in for than he did a year ago, just because of the added maturation and another year under his belt.”
Sean Newcomb will make his second start when the Braves host the Phillies at CoolToday Park on Monday night. Newcomb is vying for one of the two vacancies within the Atlanta rotation, which will not include Cole Hamels (left shoulder inflammation) for at least the first three weeks of the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET.