Braves’ Matt Olson feeling right at home now

Braves first baseman Matt Olson reacts with teammates following the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. Olson hit a two-RBI double during the inning. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Braves first baseman Matt Olson reacts with teammates following the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. Olson hit a two-RBI double during the inning. (Jason Getz /

When Matt Olson was in San Diego and Los Angeles with his new team, things felt normal. This was simply life on the road, the same as it has been since he debuted.

But as the Braves readied to return home, it felt different for the first baseman who had spent his entire career with Oakland before Atlanta acquired him.

“When we got on the plane and I was coming back home,” Olson said, “that’s when it hit a little bit.”

For the first time in his career, the end of a road trip took him back to his home. Not his in-season home, but his real home.

And on Thursday, when the Braves had their first off day of the season, Olson and his wife, Nicole, joked with one another: This is kind of weird. They became accustomed to finding something fun to do on days off, but this time they were perfectly content to spend the day in a house they purchased last August. “Let’s chill at home, enjoy the house,” they said.

Matt is finally home.

The transition, he said, has been good – through you probably could’ve gleaned that from his performance.

Prior to Saturday’s game against the Marlins, Olson had been batting .389 with a 1.130 on-base plus slugging percentage. He’s hit two home runs and has driven in four runs. He’s walked 12 times in 66 plate appearances.

“He’s kind of as he was billed,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Knew of his career from afar, but it’s been everything that we thought we were going to get.”

Braves first baseman Matt Olson hits a two-RBI double during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

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Credit: Jason Getz /

The manager later added: “He’s just a good hitter. He fights off tough pitches in his at-bat to stay alive and will take walks. It’s really nice to see his approach for a big guy like that.”

This is about as good a start as the Braves and their fans could’ve hoped for in Olson’s homecoming. He is replacing a franchise icon in Freddie Freeman. Even so, it feels unfair to compare the two. They’re in different situations, even if they’ll forever be linked in a way.

In the season’s first week, Olson joked that a couple of his jam shots turned into hits. He laughed it off because that’s baseball.

Well, his hot start hasn’t been a fluke. According to Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity on balls in play through Friday was 94 mph, which puts him in the top 10% in baseball. Not only is he achieving the intended outcomes, but he’s hitting balls hard, which further legitimizes his start.

Asked how he can keep this going as long as possible, Olson said: “It’s still a process for me, but I think the biggest thing is if something doesn’t necessarily feel like you’re in a good stage, something feels like it gets off the track a little bit, I think not ignoring it is the way to go. Sometimes in the past, I’ve been like, ‘I’m hitting well, just let it go.’ You look and one bad game where you can make one slight, conscious adjustment could turn into a week of bad games, and it’s like you’re starting fresh. For me, it’s staying fine-tuned when you’re feeling good and trying to keep that going as long as possible.”

Many Braves fans perhaps had mixed emotions when the club acquired Olson, a move that signaled Freeman’s departure. Olson has surely won over fans.

He understands the situation. He is aware of Freeman’s status in Braves history. He wanted to be respectful of all that, but be himself.

“I know it was probably a different situation for teammates and fans and everybody involved with the Braves,” Olson said. “It’s been cool. I feel like all that’s kind of getting past us now, and it’s just like, all right, we’re the Braves, we’re going to play some baseball. That’s what I’m all about.”

Olson is also appreciative of the opportunity. He’s the hometown kid playing for his hometown team. If all goes well, he will be playing in Atlanta for a long time, which gives he and Nicole plenty of time to hit the “low-key spots” by their house on future off days.

“It’s been a transition, and a good one, I would say,” Olson said. “Not a lot of people get this opportunity to be in a place they grew up and enjoy family and friends around, and go out and play baseball, too. Very thankful.”

Ronald Acuña update

Ronald Acuña, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett, is scheduled to play nine innings in right field on Tuesday. He’ll have three straight games, from Tuesday through Thursday, and the Braves will evaluate how Tuesday goes to determine what he will do the next two days.

Acuña appears to be on track. The target date for a return is May 6, though that could be altered.

“I give a lot of credit to him, the dedication he’s had in his rehab,” Snitker said. “He’s done everything right. You just look at him physically and see what he’s put into it and all, just how good his body looks and strong. That’s not an easy thing to go through.”

Braves' third baseman Austin Riley and first baseman Matt Olson share some time during the warm-up at Truist Park.Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Miguel Martinez/

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

What Snitker told Austin Riley

Snitker said it’s “really neat” to see a player become a father.

Riley and his wife, Anna, welcomed their son, Eason Michael Riley, into the world Wednesday.

Snitker said he told Austin Riley: “Baseball will be even more fun now that you have somebody else in your life. It won’t be just about baseball.”

Adam Duvall returns

Adam Duvall, who missed Friday’s game due to a family illness, returned to the lineup on Saturday.

He was in the seventh spot in the order and in center field.