ATLANTA -- As Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman strolled into SunTrust Park with a bright green cast covering his fractured left wrist, he got his first taste of the helpless frustration he will feel as he spends the next 10 weeks unable to build on what had the makings to
ATLANTA -- As Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman strolled into SunTrust Park with a bright green cast covering his fractured left wrist, he got his first taste of the helpless frustration he will feel as he spends the next 10 weeks unable to build on what had the makings to be an MVP-caliber season.
Freeman knew his wrist was likely broken as soon as he was struck by Aaron Loup's 94-mph fastball during the fifth inning of Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Blue Jays. But he maintained hope for a miraculous development until Thursday morning, when an MRI and CT scan confirmed the fracture.
"It's a tough break for the ballclub, and I think it's certainly a tough break for Freddie with the historic year he was putting together coming off the great second half he had last year," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "The ballclub was really starting to get going. It's going to be a big hole."
Whether they stick with internal options like Jace Peterson and Rio Ruiz or create an opportunity for veteran James Loney, who signed a Minor League deal on Thursday, the Braves can't fully compensate for the loss of Freeman, who had slashed .341/.461/.748 through this season's first 37 games.
Freeman led the National League with 14 home runs and ranked second with a 1.209 OPS. His 2.6 fWAR ranks third in the Majors, trailing only Bryce Harper's 2.9 and Michael Trout's 2.8. This impressive production fueled the Braves, who had created some recent optimism by winning five of their past six games entering Thursday.
"The more disappointing fact is we started playing good baseball as a team," Freeman said. "I've never played this game for myself. I just want to come in here, play and help this team get back to the playoffs because it's been four years."
Freeman made it clear there was no reason to even speculate about whether Loup was doing anything more than just trying to throw an inside pitch.
"There was no intent," Freeman said. "He was just trying to get me out. The best possible way to get me out is to pitch me inside. I'll be the first to tell you that. He was just trying to do his job."
Two years after seeing his frustrating 2015 season burdened by ligament damage in his right wrist, Freeman will spend a significant portion of this summer sidelined by this left wrist injury. If all goes well with his rehab and recovery, he could return to Atlanta's lineup during July's final week.
"He is our guy and he is the one that gets all the big hits and makes all the plays," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's tough, as arguably you are losing the best player in the game right now, let alone our team. It's tough but you got to go on, work it out and do the best you can. I am confident in the guys -- we will have to go get the job done and figure out a way."
Freeman will remain in a hard cast (he chose green because it was his late mother's favorite color) for the next four weeks. Once the cast is removed, he will steadily attempt to regain strength and a feel for his quick, compact swing that places a lot of strain on his wrists.
"It's a tough blow, but I'm going to do everything I can to get back as soon as I can," Freeman said. "This is not the news I wanted, but for now I've just got to sit and wait and let it heal."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.