Josh Donaldson hits first homer, grows more comfortable in field

Donaldson, who describes his swing as “violent” and “aggressive,” has hit .250 over his shortened spring. It’s his first real spring training in two years, with injuries running interference. Friday’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins was another step in the right direction. 

He flashed with the bat and glove, providing a reminder as to how complete a player he can be when at full strength.

“It’s getting closer,” he said. “I don’t put a ton of stock into what happens. It’s just more the process of me going through my routine every day. It’s nice to have a little results but I’m not living or dying off that.” 

Donaldson’s homer off Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen was a strange one. It didn’t get much off the ground, staying just high enough and over the wall. Donaldson didn’t think it’d clear the yard.

Even more important, the 33-year-old felt comfortable in the field. He was ravaged by shoulder and calf injuries last season, prompting the Braves to take a slower approach with him over the past month.

“Everything feels good,” he said. “I was probably more happy today that I was able to be challenged a little bit defensively, moving side to side, coming in on some balls, throwing from different arm angles. Today was the first take I got to see gold glover Freddie Freeman at first base. So it’s nice to have that guy over there.”

Indeed, the Donaldson-Freeman combo will be paramount to the Braves’ offensive success. That duo has the potential of the best 2-3 punch in the game.

But their defense, as Donaldson will quickly remind you, shouldn’t be overlooked.

“It’s what I like about spring training: Getting to know other players on my own team,” Donaldson said. Not just as a person, but knowing what their strengths are. Hey, the more confidence I have over there that I can miss (the throw) low, the more plays I feel like I can make. 

“Now I know that I can miss and that first ball I threw, I spiked that straight in the dirt. I threw it hard and he was able to come up with it. Just gives me more confidence in him. So when I come up to make a play, I’m not worried about missing low. Things like that. That’s what’s cool about spring training, being able to go through that.”

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