The Atlanta Braves will open the 2022 season Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds without Freddie Freeman on their roster for the first time since 2010. It’ll be a strange sight.
Over the past 11 years, Freeman became a beloved cornerstone, concluding in October with the club’s World Series title in 26 years. But the Braves and the first baseman surprisingly went their separate ways last month. Atlanta acquired Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics. Freeman signed with the Dodgers. The sequence was shocking. Freeman was expected to return and finish his career in Atlanta.
One Braves star won’t miss him.
In an Instagram Live interview conducted in Spanish with Dominican journalist Yancen Pujols, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. on Wednesday said he and Freeman clashed during their four seasons together.
“Me? Nothing,” Acuña said when asked what he will miss most about Freddie Freeman.
Acuña, 24, said the two players didn’t talk much. He relayed a story from his rookie season in 2018 when Braves veterans called him into the manager’s office and wiped the eye black off of his face because they didn’t like it. Freeman was presumably one of the veterans.
“When you come up as a rookie, there’s always somebody who wants to give it to you,” Acuña said. “You come with your minor league swagger. You do your eyeblack . . . your sunglasses, your hat a little crooked. A lot of people look at it wrong and I don’t look look at it wrong because it’s part of the game. So, a lot of veterans gave it to me, when I came up in 2018, a lot of them gave it to me.”
Acuña said he didn’t speak up because he was a rookie. The Venezuela native, 21 at the time, was named National League Rookie of the Year after hitting 26 home runs with a .917 OPS. An All-Star in 2019 and 2021, Acuña tore his ACL last July and watched the Braves win the World Series without him. Acuña isn’t expected to return to the Braves lineup until next month.
“I’m not saying I’m a veteran today,” Acuña said, “but no one is going to come and take something off my face today.”