As the Braves prepare for opening day, Matt Olson readies for his homecoming.
The successor to Freddie Freeman, Olson faces high expectations. But he possesses the bat and glove to meet, and perhaps exceed, them.
The Braves believe he’s the perfect combination of talent and makeup, a guy who will boost clubhouse chemistry as much as he does the on-field product. He’ll soon play meaningful games for the team he rooted for as a child.
As we look ahead to opening day, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted Q&As with key Braves players. Here is a quick conversation with Olson.
Q: How’s your time been here so far?
A: Good, good. Obviously very talented team and a great group of guys. Guys just seem like they’re here to go out and win, and have some fun doing it. I’m excited.
Q: What’s the key to you being able to produce at the rate you have your entire career?
A: I think just consistency. Right now, just getting more at-bats and feeling more comfortable in the box. Going out there and doing my thing, and being one of nine guys who can produce any given night.
Q: Do you feel any pressure in replacing Freddie Freeman?
A: I understand there’s always going to be some sort of parallel or connection that’s tried to be drawn, but that can’t affect what I do, can’t affect what we do as a team. This is an incredibly talented lineup. As far as pressure goes, I’m not feeling pressure to be the guy or anything. There’s nine dudes who can do it any given night. That’s a good feeling. Incredibly talented team. There’s no pressure as far as that goes.
Q: You watched these guys from afar and know them personally now. Who’s one of the guys that doesn’t get talked about enough?
A: Man, there’s a bunch. I don’t think (Austin) Riley necessarily gets as much love as he should. Everything. I think a lot of people talk about him in the media as being a good bat, but his defense is amazing, his arm is incredible. (Adam Duvall) had one of the quietest (38) homers last year. (Travis) d’Arnaud, being a catcher, being able to swing the way he does. Obviously the other dudes – Ozzie (Albies), Ronald (Acuña Jr.), Dansby (Swanson) – they probably get a little more love than those guys but still great players. One through nine is pretty nice.
Q: How much does it mean to you now to be a part of the Atlanta community again?
A: It’s really cool. Not many people get that opportunity to bring it back to the team you were a fan of as a kid and where you grew up and all that. It’s really cool to get this chance.
Q: What have you noticed about the culture in the organization since you’ve been here?
A: A bunch of guys who like to have fun, mess around a lot, but when it’s work time, it’s work time, which I really appreciate. Obviously these guys wouldn’t have won it all last year if that wasn’t the case.