ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman is looking forward to what Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Luiz Gohara can provide over the course of the upcoming season. But while the Braves are looking forward to the extension of their youth moment, there's no doubt their success will be significantly influenced by the health of Freeman, who proudly reports he has regained the left wrist strength he lacked near the end of last season.
"That's all it's been about this offseason, just getting that wrist strong," Freeman said while attending Chop Fest on Saturday. "I started hitting way earlier than I usually do, just to test it out. I did it in 25-degree weather on purpose the first day just to see if there would be any aches or pains. I have had zero problems. Everything feels great and everything feels strong."
This is certainly encouraging news for the Braves, who saw Freeman produce MVP-caliber numbers during last season's first six weeks before he sustained a fractured left wrist that sidelined him through the first few days of July. The first baseman remained productive, producing a .890 OPS after returning, but he became frustrated as his wrist fatigued over the final two months.
"I have no regrets coming back early, and I have no regrets playing every single day after I came back," Freeman said. "I wanted to come back and help the team win. I hope I never have that problem again, but I would come back that fast again if I would have that opportunity."
Along with resting his wrist during the early part of this offseason, Freeman also underwent Lasik surgery, a procedure that should prevent him from dealing with the dry eye irritation he has occasionally experienced while wearing contact lenses.
Freeman is entering the fifth year of his eight-year, $135 million deal. He has indicated he would like to follow Chipper Jones' path by playing his entire career for the Braves. But the potential value of this current deal has been weakened as the club has spent the past three seasons going through what has been an oft-painful rebuild.
As Freeman looks toward the upcoming season, he counts himself among the many who are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Acuna, ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, who may have to spend a few more weeks with Triple-A Gwinnett before experiencing his much-anticipated big league debut.
"We don't have that big right-handed bat until you know who comes along," Freeman said. "Hopefully, he makes an impact right away. We're going to have our ups and downs with him. It's going to be his first year learning the system, learning the game and how people will make adjustments to him. But hopefully, he can be that guy and he's the next Aaron Judge, where he comes in and makes an impact right away. I've heard such amazing things about him. It's going to be good. Hopefully, he can push his way in a lot quicker [than currently expected]."