Freeman's hurt and a season is broken

Braves athletic trainer Jim Lovell inspects Freddie Freeman's injury Wednesday night, but can't make it better. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: Steve Hummer

Credit: Steve Hummer

Braves athletic trainer Jim Lovell inspects Freddie Freeman's injury Wednesday night, but can't make it better. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

So, we went to a Braves game Thursday and an Abbott and Costello bit broke out.

Who’s on first?

(OK, kids, here’s the routine. We all could use a laugh about now).

For the record, Jace Peterson was on first Thursday, employing the over-sized used glove he got from Freddie Freeman this spring, juuuuust in case. A utility infielder needs to be prepared for anything, even Braves-mageddon.

While a gifted and game athlete, the 6-foot (maybe) Peterson certainly doesn’t present nearly the target at first as does the 6-5 Freeman. Doesn’t have the reach. Doesn’t have the stretch. Isn’t nearly as comfortable wearing the jai-alai cesta that is the first baseman’s mitt.

Then there is the little matter of the trade-off at the plate. In the Peterson-for-Freeman transaction, the Braves lost only 133 points of average (.341-.208) and 14 home runs (14-0) and had their OPS at the position cut in half (1.209-.600).

Yes, it is a short-term disaster. Any illusion of the Braves putting up a competitive season began melting away with the news that Freeman’s wrist was broken by an Aaron Loup inside pitch Wednesday night. But more than that – because, admittedly, this is not exactly a World Series-ready bunch – what was lost here was the opportunity to watch potentially one of the great offensive seasons in Braves history play out in full. We’re poorer for that.

His current tear may have been unsustainable, but it bears mention that Freeman was on a 61-home run, 109-RBI pace. And the RBI number had all kinds of room for growth once hitters in front of him finally began finding the bases.

The 10-week timetable put on Freeman’s return barely accounts for getting comfortable at the plate and regaining even a portion of the momentum he had generated these first 37 games. Greatness interruptus. What a downer.

No, it’s not the equivalent of Matt Ryan breaking a wrist in the third game of the season. But you could argue it’s at or even a little north of Julio-Jones-breaks-a-wrist. (Just trying to add some perspective here, not add another layer of scare). This is the current best at his position sent away in a green cast.

Even Dan Quinn would have trouble coming up with a peppy slogan for this one.

“It’s next MVP candidate up,” just doesn’t ring with optimism.

This is the one mishap for which the Braves have no remedy. Dealing with a player who has appeared in 147 or more games a year for five of his six full seasons, the Braves couldn’t have prepared for his sudden absence. Freeman is a given at first. Like management said, they’re weren’t going to attract any free-agent backups to camp with Freeman owning all the playing time. Besides, that would have been Sean Rodriguez’s role, among many others (he has played 140 games at first in his career). But that offseason car accident and resulting shoulder injury looms as even more painful now.

Any free agent out there now is just the shadow of a place-holder. And trading away any kind of valuable assets for a temp worker at first hardly makes sense.

What a mess.

Who’s on first?

The updated version isn't funny at all.