All-Star excitement abounds for Freeman, Acuna

June 29th, 2019

NEW YORK -- The day after and were named All-Star Game starters, their excitement was palpable. Freeman will make his second consecutive start, while Acuna will be making his first All-Star Game appearance. Freeman will be there to help guide Acuna.

“To have it with Ronald, his first one, it’s always special. … It’s going to be cool to experience this with him,” Freeman said before Friday’s game against the Mets.

Having been there before with three career All-Star Game appearances, Freeman will have copious amounts of advice to offer.

“It’s learning how to navigate it. It’s a hectic two days, it really is,” Freeman said. “You know, last year was a lot of firsts for me in the Home Run Derby and starting. But now … pretty much every single thing I’ll know how to navigate and I can help Ronald, because it’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of things you have to do during those two days. But just to remind him to take it all in. You only get your first All-Star Game once. I think Ronald’s going to be there a lot of times. So it’s going to be hectic, but it’s always a lot of fun.”

Acuna will be the youngest Braves player to start an All-Star Game, a testament to the immediate impact he’s had since joining the Major League club.

Asked if he could remember another player ascending to the elite echelon of players so quickly, Freeman responded with a familiar name.

“I can only really remember one and that’s Mike Trout … and for Ronald to go there in his first year [as an All-Star] and to be a starter, that’s very, very hard to do. He’s taken this country, baseball, by storm,” Freeman said.

Entering Friday night, Acuna had 45 career home runs in 192 games -- nine more than Trout had in his first 192 games, with his .899 OPS just shy of Trout’s .902 in that same span.

Teammate Ozzie Albies was an All-Star for the first time last year, and Acuna picked up on the energy that comes with the event.

“The way he makes it sound, he was so excited, he says he wants to go every single year,” Acuna said through a translator. “His enthusiasm and excitement got me kind of emotional and excited, too. So now I’m sharing that enthusiasm and trying to go every year. So hopefully we’ll be able to do that from here on out.”

Of course, Acuna and Freeman will be joined by at least one other familiar face -- and perhaps more -- with manager Brian Snitker set to be one of Dave Roberts’ coaches for the National League squad.

“It’s special. … You know, he deserves everything he’s getting right now, the last couple years,” Freeman said of Snitker. “You spend 40-plus years in the game of baseball, and especially with one organization … I’m so happy that he’s finally getting everything he should’ve been getting a long time ago. He’s the head of this team. And we run through walls for that guy, so now he gets to experience a division title last year and now he gets to go to an All-Star Game. It’s very special.”

Acuna was similarly enthused to get to be there with a contingent of Braves.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s something hard to put into words, something incomparable. To be able to go out there and share that experience with your teammates, it’s awesome.”

Injury updates

Ender Inciarte and Kevin Gausman will play in simulated games on Sunday.

Inciarte has been sidelined since mid-May with a lumbar strain, his first injured-list stint since 2016. Gausman has been out since June 11 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He also spent time on the injured list to start the year with right shoulder inflammation.