Freeman’s eyes and Colorado climate aren’t a good match

Freddie Freeman has tried all manner of contact lenses and glasses in the past after his initial problems with dry air and wind at Coors Field in 2012.
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Freddie Freeman has tried all manner of contact lenses and glasses in the past after his initial problems with dry air and wind at Coors Field in 2012.

The last time Freddie Freeman’s contact lenses dried on a windy, low-humidity night in Colorado, he tried changing his contacts lenses six times during the game and ended up scratching his cornea with his finger and missing some games.

That was in 2012, his second full season in the majors, and it led to a months-long issue as Freeman sought the right pair of contacts, eye drops, glasses. He tried just about everything trying to get his eyes back to normal, all while his batting average slipped steadily, dropping more than 50 points.

Flash ahead to Tuesday, on another dry night in Colorado when a cold front blew in from the north and the winds started whipping across Coors Field. Freeman’s contact lenses starting to get dry and he tried three different pairs before deciding he wasn’t going to risk a repeat of 2012.

He and Braves head trainer Jeff Porter swapped the lenses a few times and tried putting drops in about a dozen times in the middle innings before Freeman had an idea. He would keep the third pair of contacts in his eyes the rest of the game and wear his sunglasses in the field to keep the wind from making things worse. He hoped that blinking would help at the plate since he doesn’t like wearing glasses at-bat because the nose piece gets in his line of vision to the ball.

“I was going out in my sunglasses and then (equipment manager) Ben Acree told me that Tyler has a bunch of glasses, so he let me borrow some luckily,” Freeman said.

Braves catcher Tyler Flowers has a vast assortment of glasses, clear and tinted, prescription and non-prescription. A yellow pair was non-prescription, so Freeman grabbed those and wore them at first base for the rest of the game.

“I didn’t want to (hit) in them because I see the nose piece; that’s why I kind of canned the glasses after 2012,” he said. “With my stance I see the little black spot (from the nose piece). So I was hoping that maybe with a blink, (the contacts) would go clear for me during the at-bat instead of seeing a black spot (from the glasses) the whole time.

“I saw alright in my last at-bat. It was tough though. The worst is coming from first base and running into the dugout because I was running right into the wind. It was just brutal so I was trying to keep my head down the whole time.”

Freeman being Freeman, he had a third-inning double despite the vision issues. He lined out to deep left field in his last at-bat in the eighth inning with a runner on second in a tie game. Two batters later that runner (Brandon Phillips) scored what proved to be the winning run when Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado made a throwing error on a Flowers grounder.

“When I took my contacts out after the game it was the greatest feeling ever,” Freeman said, adding that he put nine drops in each eye before he went to bed.

With the forecast calling for only light breezes Wednesday night, Freeman hoped that he’d be able to avoid another episode with the contacts, but was ready to put Flowers’ glasses on again if necessary in the field.