KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Now that he has been comforted by the durability of his right wrist and proven yet again that his eyes quickly adjust to live pitching, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman simply hopes that his recent flourish against opposing pitchers extends into the regular season.Playing for a second
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Now that he has been comforted by the durability of his right wrist and proven yet again that his eyes quickly adjust to live pitching, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman simply hopes that his recent flourish against opposing pitchers extends into the regular season.
Playing for a second consecutive day for the first time since reporting to Spring Training, with lingering concerns about his previously injured right wrist, Freeman extended his early Grapefruit League season success by lining an opposite-field home run during the third inning of Wednesday's 9-5 loss to the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.
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"I have been seeing the ball pretty well, and I've just been working in the cage a lot, just making sure I stay up through the middle," Freeman said. "Good things are happening now. So, hopefully, I'm not peaking too early."
Really, the most important recent development comes from the fact that Freeman has not felt any discomfort in the right wrist, which bothered him much of last season and prevented him from even taking normal batting practice until two weeks ago.
But it's safe to say Freeman is also happy about the fact that, within his first 12 plate appearances, he has belted two homers, recorded a double and drawn five walks. One of the four outs he has recorded was a lineout to right field in Wednesday's fifth inning.
"Coming in, I thought trying to find the timing would be the hardest thing for me," Freeman said. "But for some reason, it has been coming in a little bit earlier this year. So, hopefully, that is a sign of good things to come during the season."
Because there has been a point during each of the last few seasons where Freeman has become impatient and started to swing at some pitches out of his comfort zone, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been encouraged to see the lone legitimate power source in his lineup draw so many walks over the past week.
"There will be times during the course of the year where they're not going to pitch to him, and rightfully so," Gonzalez said. "I hope he continues to stay patient, and I hope he continues drawing his walks and lets somebody drive him in or whatever happens behind him."
Concern regarding Freeman's wrist began to dissipate when he doubled in his first plate appearance of the year and then drilled a home run in his fourth plate appearance. His home run off left-hander Neal Cotts on Wednesday was a line drive that hugged the left-field line and stayed fair as it cleared the outfield wall.
With the Astros utilizing a shift with a runner on second base and two outs, Freeman was simply trying to hit something through the empty left side of the infield.
"When they shift you with a guy in scoring position, it's a free RBI [if you hit it to the left side]," Freeman said. "I would have been fine if I hit a ball right at the third baseman. But I was able to stay inside that cutter and hit it the other way. I thought it was going to be a double, but with that wind blowing out that way, it just kept going."
Freeman will rest on Thursday and then play on both Friday and Saturday. He is aiming to play on three consecutive days at some point next week.
"Once we do that, we'll be full-bore and ready to rock," Freeman said. "Hopefully, everything keeps going as smoothly as it is."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.