Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Freeman steps into mentor role with Acuna

First baseman confident young star is moving on from Sunday's incident
@mlbbowman
August 20, 2019

ATLANTA -- After Braves manager Brian Snitker removed Ronald Acuña Jr. from Sunday’s win over the Dodgers for admiring his hit, Freddie Freeman immediately took a few minutes to make sure the 21-year-old outfielder understood this learning experience should only make him better. “I wanted him to understand where I

ATLANTA -- After Braves manager Brian Snitker removed Ronald Acuña Jr. from Sunday’s win over the Dodgers for admiring his hit, Freddie Freeman immediately took a few minutes to make sure the 21-year-old outfielder understood this learning experience should only make him better.

“I wanted him to understand where I was coming from and that’s not how we do things,” Freeman said. “But that was two days ago. He handled it perfectly. I think he’s going to learn. He shook his head yes to everything I had to say. He knows he made a mistake.

“I complimented him as I got mad at him. I told him in my eyes he has a chance to be the best player in this league and the best players in the league don’t do that.”

As Acuna was back at the top of the Braves' lineup for Tuesday night’s series opener against the Marlins, he and his teammates had already distanced themselves from what had transpired on Sunday.

Acuna admired a long fly ball that hit near the top of the right-field wall and resulted in a single during the third inning. The 21-year-old All-Star compounded the mistake when he was thrown out during a stolen-base attempt that everyone, including the Dodgers, was anticipating.

Snitker shared a brief conversation with Freeman before signaling for Acuna to come down the dugout stairs toward the clubhouse. He informed Acuna of his decision before Freeman briefly spoke to the young outfielder.

When Freeman returned to the dugout, television cameras caught him share a brief exchange with Snitker. Some fans misinterpreted this as him showing disfavor toward the manager’s decision to remove Acuna.

“That was me telling Snit what I told Ronald,” Freeman said. “I was completely on board with Snit. I thought he handled it perfectly and I think Ronald handled it perfectly after the game. Now we just get to move forward. He has the chance to be the best player in this league and I think going forward, he’s going to act like it.”

Hamilton and The Freeze
After the Braves claimed Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Royals on Monday, MLB.com’s Cut 4 lobbied for the speedy outfielder to now race against The Freeze. Many likely don’t realize the speedy outfielder and the world-class sprinter who plays The Freeze have gotten to know each other over the past few years.

“We were going to work out one offseason,” Hamilton said. “It’s just unbelievable how he runs like that and the technique that he has. (If we’ll race) is a question I’ve been being asked since I signed with the Braves. I doubt it will happen. But it would be good.”

Growing up in Mississippi, Hamilton dreamed of the opportunity he was given on Tuesday to first don a Braves uniform. The 28-year-old veteran will be used as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement. He’s two years removed from his fourth straight 50-stolen base season, but remains one of the game’s fastest players.

Per Statcast, Hamilton’s sprint speed (29.5 feet per second) ranks fourth among all MLB players who have had at least 100 qualifying runs this season. This is down just slightly from the marks he produced each of the past three seasons: 30.2. ft./sec. in 2016 and 30.1 ft./sec. in '17 and '18: 30.1 ft./sec.

Injury updates
Outfielder Austin Riley took batting practice on the field on Tuesday and he has spent much of the past week running without any problems with his right knee (partially torn ligament). Riley remains on schedule to begin a Minor League rehab assignment at some point this weekend.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson (right heel bruise) would also like to begin playing in Minor League rehab games within the next few days. But before setting a timetable, the Braves want to see how Swanson reacts after he hits, runs the bases and completes some acceleration drills on Wednesday.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.