Freddie Freeman (left) chats with Matt Kemp during a break in an early spring training workout. Freeman is 5-for-6 with four RBIs in his past two games and has a .524 average (22-for-42) that would lead the majors if he wasn’t just shy of the minimum plate appearances to qualify. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Braves’ Freeman (.524) is ‘locked in’ and ready to take it north

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – After Freddie Freeman’s three-hit, three-RBI game Monday in an 11-3 win against the Tigers, the Braves first baseman’s spring-training batting average was sitting at a tidy .500 (20-for-40) in 15 games.

“Yeah, I’ve been locked in pretty much all spring training,” Freeman said. “We’ve got two (Grapefruit League games) left. It may go under .500.”

That’s less likely after Freeman went 2-for-2 with another RBI on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the Orioles, raising his average to .524 with a .563 OBP and .619 slugging percentage in 42 at-bats. His average would lead the majors if he wasn’t just shy of the minimum plate appearances to qualify after missing nine days for the World Baseball Classic.

Though 20 of his 22 hits have been singles and only one a home run, the Braves and Freeman will gladly take it, knowing that when he’s hitting opposite-field line drives to the left field, the homers and other extra-base hits will eventually come. More important than the lack of homers is the fact that Freeman has just five strikeouts all spring.

The Braves have one Grapefruit League game left Wednesday against the Mets, then the Braves break camp, head home to Atlanta and play the Yankees in an exhibition game Friday at SunTrust Park before opening the season Monday against the Mets at New York.

They are at or near the bottom in most team offensive categories this spring, but the Braves had 19 hits and 11 runs Monday against the Tigers. That included 13 hits and nine runs against left-hander Daniel Norris, who entered with a 3.00 ERA and hadn’t allowed more than two runs all spring.

That Monday game was only the second time the projected opening-day lineup played together this spring and first time since before the WBC.

“It was pretty much our first time playing together and we pretty much picked up right where we left off (last season),” Freeman said. “Everybody’s getting back into it the last week of spring training. Everybody’s going, OK, I guess it’s time to really start trying here. I don’t think anybody in here was really worried about anything. I couldn’t tell you anything that’s going on (statistically) in spring training.

“Everybody looks good, everybody’s healthy and that’s all we care about. As long as everybody’s healthy, it’s all going to be there.”

NOTES: Braves starter Jaime Garcia gave up eight hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings in Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles. It was the last spring start for Garcia, who’ll pitch in a minor-league camp game Saturday before making his Braves regular-season debut with a start in the series finale against the Mets on April 6. … Right-hander David Hernandez, who signed a minor league contract Sunday and is trying to impress in the final week of camp, pitched one inning in his Braves spring debut Tuesday and gave up one hit, one run and one walk with one strikeout. … Long reliever/spot starter Josh Collmenter will start Wednesday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Mets.

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