LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Splintering his bat on a fastball might never have felt as good as it did Saturday for Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who felt no pain in his right wrist upon shattering his bat at the handle on the last pitch he saw from Lucas Sims in “live” batting practice.
Freeman saw right-handers Bud Norris and hard-throwing prospect Sims in the first live pitching he faced since last season, when he missed 44 games with a wrist injury that lingered into the offseason and kept him from swinging a bat until Dec. 31.
“I think I went through the biggest test there is, getting blown up inside,” Freeman said to teammate Jeff Francoeur after completing his last round of batting practice. When hitting coach Kevin Seitzer walked over to ask if the wrist felt OK, Freeman said, “Yeah, fine.”
Later, he said of the pitch from Sims: “Fastball down the middle, I was just a little late.”
Freeman took his first swings against overhanded pitching in more than four months this week when he faced coaches throwing straight and not-very-fastballs in batting practice Wednesday and Friday. He had stood in the batter’s box Friday in live BP against Julio Teheran, but only to “track” (gauge) the speed of pitches, without swinging at any of them.
When he stepped in Saturday and swung at a pitch from Norris, Freeman surprised just about everyone. He said even the Braves trainers didn’t know he was going to swing at live pitching. He swung at a few Sims pitches and hit a couple of line drives before shattering his bat on his last swing of the day.
The coach-pitch session Friday and Saturday’s live BP were Freeman’s first back-to-back days hitting – other than hitting balls off a tee or flipped underhanded – in more than four months.
“I think they want me to take tomorrow off just for stress management (of the wrist),” Freeman said. “I told them I was fine, but they just want to make sure it stays fine.”