ATLANTA -- It didn't take Freddie Freeman and many of his teammates long to get a sense that they are going to like their new home, which looks as though it will be much more accommodating to hitters than Turner Field ever was.In helping the Braves claim an 8-5 win
ATLANTA -- It didn't take Freddie Freeman and many of his teammates long to get a sense that they are going to like their new home, which looks as though it will be much more accommodating to hitters than Turner Field ever was.
In helping the Braves claim an 8-5 win over the Yankees in an exhibition that served as the first game played at SunTrust Park, Freeman became the first Atlanta player to homer in the venue when he connected on a three-run homer in the third inning off Yankees starter Michael Pineda. The line-drive shot sailed through a friendly wind and landed just to the right of the 375-foot marker in the right-center alley.
Asked what he likes most about the new park, Freeman said, simply, "375."
It was a somewhat lighthearted response, but after spending the first six full seasons of his career dealing with the 390-foot alley in right-center at Turner Field, there was also candidness within the reply.
When the Braves return to SunTrust Park on April 14 to play their home opener against the Padres, Freeman, Matt Kemp and Atlanta's other sluggers will be aiming to hit the first official home run in the stadium's history. More important, they're eagerly looking forward to the possibility that this truly will be a hitters' park.
Kemp and Freeman put on a show when the Braves took batting practice at SunTrust for the first time on Thursday, and the two got even more excited on Friday, when the wind and more accommodating power alleys became even more attractive.
"I don't think I've seen Nick hit a ball of the left-center-field wall for a long time," Freeman said in reference to the opposite-field double Nick Markakis hit in the second inning, the Braves' first hit in the new ballpark. "He told me he got it, so hopefully, that is a sign of things to come. Matt came over and high-fived me after Nick hit that double. We were pretty excited about it. I think it's more on the hitter's side. When that sun goes down early in the season and it's not as hot as it usually is, I think it's going to play somewhat fair. But I think it's going to lean toward hitters this year."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.