Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman started his spring training Saturday morning. Within an hour, he held his first media convocation in the clubhouse, covering a wide range of topics, including the Braves’ criticized offseason, lineup construction and more.
Here are a few of Freeman’s thoughts:
On his offseason:
“It was great. I spent most of my time in California this offseason. I had a great time. I wanted my son to be out more – the weather in Atlanta is a bit colder. So we spent about 2-1/2 months out there this year.”
On the Braves now having playoff experience:
“It’s a little different, even though it was a little too short. Playing those kind of games means everything to me and everybody in this clubhouse. Getting back to the playoffs, and now when you get in the clubhouse and see these guys here, it just puts a smile on your face because you know the winning ways are back.”
On the Brian McCann signing:
“It made me feel good because I was the one that pretty much said we need to get him. They listened to me, (general manager Alex Anthopoulos) said everything that happens with Brian this year is on me (laughs). So I need Brian to do really good this year. I said if we couldn’t get Kurt (Suzuki) back, Brian is the guy we need in this clubhouse every single day.
“I’ve been telling everybody, it could be Aug. 2 and we’re on a 1-4 spin, and he’ll walk in and it feels like you’re 5-0. That’s what you need. That’s what we had when I was younger. You had those David Rosses, Eric Hinskes, Brian McCanns who kept the clubhouse together. That’s what Brian is and people are going to see that this year.”
On his dialogue with the front office:
“I bothered them a lot this offseason. I like the group of guys that we got. … It’s been good. They’ve kept me in the loop the entire offseason, so I appreciate that.”
On the Braves not making another big addition:
“Well, my point of view is, say we didn’t do anything all offseason, then come in and sign Nick (Markakis), Brian and Josh (Donaldson) the last week of the offseason. Everybody’s going to be happy. I understand that we did it so fast, and then things didn’t pan out — I’ve read what (Anthopoulos) has said. It makes sense. He’s not going to spend money just to spend money. Because then we’ll be put in a situation two or three years from now when we won’t be able to sign if someone (a Brave) comes up for free agency then. So Alex has been a guy who’s very patient. He understands the market. He’s told me, ‘I’ve won the offseason in Toronto. It just didn’t work out.’ He’s gotten to the (league championship series), he knows what to do.
“He did that with trading for David Price and all those kinds of things at the deadline. So if we have some room to wiggle at the deadline, he’s going to go for it. We have a 90-win team, pretty much everyone came back, adding Josh Donaldson and B-Mac. You lose Kurt and Anibal (Sanchez), but we have those young starters who are going to come back and I feel like they’ll step up huge. We have a 90-win team that got better, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
On Ronald Acuna:
“He’s not going to surprise anybody but he’s a special player. That ceiling isn’t even close to getting touched, I think. A full season of him, hopefully he can stay healthy and not miss a month like he did last year. If he didn’t miss that month, who knows what his numbers would’ve been last year. He’s a special talent and he’s only 21 years old.”
On his love for the Braves organization:
“I’ve been here forever. I love the Braves. This is all I want to be. I care about the team. It’s not just me. If I can help us, any way to get back to the playoffs, I’ll do it. I’ll spend the extra time working with Ozzie (Albies) hitting left-handed. I want to win.
“It’s not about me. It really isn’t. I got here early to hopefully work with some of these guys and get back to our winning ways. It just excited me again, what we did last year. I’m ready to go. I feel great. Hopefully we’ll get back to work and win the division again.”
On MLB’s stagnant winter:
“It’s a tough situation. It really is. The last two years have been weird. … It’s slow. The players and owners, GMs and front offices are just waiting each other out. That’s not great for baseball. I’m here at camp and Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, they’re all not signed. We as players, we just want to be on the field and doing our job. When you work that hard to get to free agency, and it doesn’t go the way you wanted, it’s tough.
“You want to get here and hopefully things work themselves out real quickly. The fans deserve the best product. And the best product — some of those guys aren’t even signed yet. They deserve to be on teams playing. They deserve what they should get because they’re superstars in our game. They should be in our clubhouses.”
On signing a lengthy extension earlier in his career:
“It was different for me back then. I had three years in and they came with that kind of deal. I loved where I was at. It was a no-brainer for me. I wasn’t thinking about free agency or anything like that. So I guess when you look back at it … it would’ve been different for me because I would’ve been a free agent two years ago, and things were still going good. But I’m happy with my deal and hopefully that can lead into some more years here, too.”
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