Acuña clarifies his comments on Freeman

April 8th, 2022

DENVER -- After saying that he would miss “nothing” about former teammate Freddie Freeman on an Instagram Live with Dominican journalist Yancen Pujols on Wednesday, Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. stood by his locker on Thursday to try to clear things up.

“I think the reporters exaggerated,” Acuña said in Spanish. “I didn’t say anything bad about Freeman. I talked about what happened in 2018 when I was a rookie. The rest was blown out of proportion.”

Acuña explained that some of his displeasure with Freeman stems from an incident in 2018, the outfielder’s rookie season. According to Acuña, Freeman and some other veterans pulled the young outfielder aside and wiped the eye black off his face.

“When you come up as a rookie, there’s always somebody who wants to stick it to you,” Acuña explained. “You come with your swagger from the Minor Leagues. … A lot of people look at it as wrong and I don’t look at it as wrong because it’s part of the game.”

When asked about Acuña’s comments during an interview with MLB Network, Freeman said he and other veterans were trying to uphold “organizational rules” that were in place with the Braves. Some of those included not covering the ‘A’ logo with sunglasses, not wearing earrings and having your hair at a certain length. And yes, those rules, according to Freeman, extended into not having most of your face covered in eye black.

“When you put on a Braves uniform, that’s just kind of what happens there,” Freeman said. “I didn’t view it as any friction or clashes or anything like that. I loved Ronald. I still love Ronald. I’m gonna miss Ronald. My family is going to miss Ronald, and I can’t wait for him to get on the field again because the game of baseball needs him.”

Freeman said it’s “unfortunate” that Acuña took offense to that moment back in ‘18, but the newly minted Dodger reiterated that he believes the two had a good relationship during their time in Atlanta.

“I’m going to miss Ronald. [My son] Charlie is going to miss Ronald, and my family is going to miss Ronald,” Freeman said. “That’s my side of it. I love Ronald Acuña, and I can’t wait for him to get healthy and get on the field and I think he’s great for the game of baseball. The talent is going to be something that is talked about for 100-plus years because those kinds of talents don’t come around in this game.”

Speaking on Thursday, Acuña said he holds “no ill will towards [Freeman]” and has moved on from the incident.

“It’s over. It’s in the past,” Acuña said. “All I’m focused on is recovering and getting back to The Show.”

The Braves travel to Dodger Stadium on April 18 in the first matchup between the two preseason favorites in the National League. Freeman and the Dodgers will visit Truist Park in June. It’ll be the Dodgers’ first meeting in Atlanta since their season came to an end in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. It’ll also be the first time Freeman plays in Atlanta as a visiting player.