Freddie Freeman came out of the gates on fire during the 2017 season. Through his first 37 games he was putting up MVP-caliber numbers in the middle of the Braves’ lineup, slashing .341/.461/.748 with 14 homers and 25 RBI. That’s an OPS of 1.209. For good measure, he had swiped four bases as well.
Then, much to the chagrin of Braves’ fans and fantasy owners alike, Freeman was drilled in the left wrist by an Aaron Loup fastball. He was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist and went on to miss nearly 10 weeks in the middle of the 2017 campaign.
While he’s not off to quite as good of a start this season, he’s still the most feared hitter in the middle of the Braves’ order. Through 17 games he’s hitting .288/.468/.492 with two homers, 12 RBI and an 18/13 K/BB ratio in 79 plate appearances. It’s that 79th plate appearance that has the baseball world holding its collective breath again.
During the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Phillies, Freeman was hit in nearly the same exact spot on his left wrist by an 89 mph fastball from Hoby Milner. The All-Star slugger was immediately lifted from the game to head for precautionary X-rays.
Braves’ manager Brian Snitker wasn’t giving up any information after the game, He told reporters simply, "It's a concern, when he gets hit in that hand… Hopefully it's ... I can't even comment because they're looking at him and evaluating him."
The Braves have chosen not to announce the results of Freeman’s X-rays until after he’s re-evaluated on Thursday. What that means for Freeman’s health and immediate future, is anyone’s guess. Some have speculated that the Braves are waiting for Thursday’s evaluation to confirm an ominous diagnosis from Wednesday’s X-rays. Others opine that if the X-rays had actually found a fracture, that they would have announced the news already.
Freeman owners will have to cross their fingers and hope that there are no whammies when the Braves announce his status on Thursday.
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Joey Bats Returns
Braves’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos witnessed the rise to stardom for Jose Bautista firsthand while the two were together in Toronto. Now, he’s hoping to rekindle some of that same magic in Atlanta.
The Braves had been rumored as a potential destination for Bautista over the winter, perhaps due to the Anthopoulos connection, but those rumors were squashed by the belief that Ronald Acuna would soon be arriving to the big leagues, leaving no vacancies in the club’s outfield. The Braves’ have had difficulty getting consistent production out of the third base position though, and Bautista has logged 394 career games at the position.
On Wednesday, the club officially inked Bautista to a minor league contract. He reported to the Braves’ spring training facility in excellent shape and will work there for a week or so before beginning to play in minor league games.
Essentially, it’s a no-risk signing for the Braves. Financially, they are only on the hook for $1 million if he makes it to the big leagues. And if he shows that he has anything left in the tank, they’ll have a considerable bargain on their hands. One that could turn into a very attractive trade chip in July.
It’s hard to put too much stock into an 18-game sample size, but so far it appears as though first-year manager Mickey Callaway has changed the Mets’ entire culture. This 2018 version of the Mets are playing an exciting and inspired brand of baseball, and they have been an awful lot of fun to watch through the first few weeks of the regular season.
On Wednesday, they entered the eighth inning trailing 4-2 against the division-rival Nationals. They had already dropped the first two games of the series and were on the verge of being swept. These Mets seem to have an awful lot of fight in them though.
Michael Conforto got things started with a leadoff single against Ryan Madson. Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with singles of their own, loading the bases with no one out. After Jay Bruce fouled out, Todd Frazier came through with a game-tying, two-run single.
That wasn’t all.
Adrian Gonzalez was then walked intentionally to set up the force at any base. Madson then battled back, setting down Wilmer Flores on strikes for the second out of the inning. Juan Lagares wouldn’t go as easily though, lacing a go-ahead two-run double into right field.
Sammy Solis then came on and walked Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto before giving way to A.J. Cole. The rookie right-hander got ahead of Yoenis Cespedes 0-2, before Cespedes cranked a grand slam that capped off a nine-run inning for the Mets.
With the victory on Wednesday, the Mets now sit at 13-4 on the season, which is the best record in the National League. They have yet to lose a game on the road through their first six tries.
American League Quick Hits: Delino DeShields (hand) took batting practice on the field on Wednesday and is progressing much quicker than originally anticipated. He’ll begin a minor league rehab assignment on Thursday… Byron Buxton was placed on the 10-day disabled list with extreme migraine headaches… Josh Donaldson (shoulder) is expected to need longer than the minimum 10 days on the disabled list… Salvador Perez (knee) has moved his rehab to Triple-A Omaha and is on track to rejoin the Royals early next week… Mike Zunino (oblique) is expected to return from the disabled list on Friday… The Yankees re-signed Adam Lind to a minor league contract… Erasmo Ramirez (lat) will make his 2018 season debut on Sunday against the Rangers… Shohei Ohtani (blister) expects to make his next scheduled start… Max Kepler left Wednesday’s game with a right knee injury… Dixon Machado belted a walk-off home run to beat the Orioles on Wednesday… Teoscar Hernandez went 4-for-6 with a homer, triple and four RBI in a rout of the Royals… Curtis Granderson belted a grand slam in that one as well… Matt Olson went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a walk-off RBI single, leading the A’s to a wild victory over the White Sox in 14 innings… Jed Lowrie belted his sixth homer of the year in that win while Yoan Moncada crushed a grand slam in a losing effort… Carlos Carrasco fanned seven over seven shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision… Jose Berrios struck out five over seven shutout innings of his own in that ballgame, also resulting in a no-decision… Miguel Sano belted a game-tying solo homer in the 14th inning against the Indians… Ryan LaMarre, who entered the game after Max Kepler was injured, went 3-for-4 and delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 16th inning… J.D. Martinez went 4-for-5 with a homer as the Red Sox throttled the Angels to improve to 15-2…. Rick Porcello hurled six scoreless frames to earn the win there… Rafael Devers crushed a grand slam in the onslaught.
National League Quick Hits: Wednesday’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals was postponed due to inclement weather… The Diamondbacks confirmed Wednesday that Taijuan Walker will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL… Ryan Braun sat out Wednesday’s game due to soreness in his calf… Anthony Rendon (toe) missed another game but is nearing a return… Carlos Gonzalez is considered day-to-day after leaving Wednesday’s game with a tweaked right hamstring… Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) has been shut down after experiencing a setback in his recovery… Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez told reporters that Matt Wieters has been battling a sore wrist… Anibal Sanchez was placed on the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring after suffering an injury while doing sprints in the outfield prior to Wednesday’s game… Rich Hill landed on the 10-day disabled list with a crack on the fingernail of his left middle finger… Jeff Samardzija (pectoral) could rejoin the Giants’ rotation on Friday… Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts made it clear that struggling closer Kenley Jansen is in no danger of losing his job… Christian Villanueva is considered day-to-day with a bruised hand after leaving Wednesday’s game after being hit by a pitch… Zach Davies twirled 6 ⅓ innings of shutout baseball in a victory over the Reds… Eric Thames crushed his seventh home run of the season in that victory… Ryan Zimmerman homered twice and drove in four runs in a loss to the Mets… Brandon McCarthy improved to 3-0, limiting the Phillies to one run over 5 ⅓ innings… Max Muncy blasted a two-run homer in his first start with the Dodgers… Corey Seager went 4-for-5 with three RBI as the Dodgers crushed the Padres… Chris Stratton fanned eight over seven shutout innings, but wound up with a no-decision against the Diamondbacks...Evan Longoria had three hits, including a two-run homer, in an extra-inning win over the D’Backs.