CHICAGO -- When Freddie Freeman returned from a fractured left wrist three weeks earlier than expected and had initial success, it appeared he was going to continue providing the Most Valuable Player-caliber production he had before his seven-week disabled list stint started in May.
The past couple of months, Freeman's bid to get back to where he was has been hindered by the fact he is steadily losing strength in the wrist. The Braves' first baseman recorded a pair of extra-base hits during Sunday afternoon's 14-12 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, but his sullen postgame mood was not just a product of his strikeout to end the game.
"It's the wet newspaper I've been swinging," Freeman said in reference to his depleted strength. "I got through it a couple times today and made contact. I needed to do it again in the last [at-bat], and I didn't do it. I'm not able to get through balls. I've got nothing left, really."
Freeman halted his uncharacteristic struggles against lefties with a two-run homer in the third inning off Jon Lester, and he added an RBI double in the two-run eighth inning. But he struck out with two on and none out in the first, and then he whiffed again when he came to the plate representing the potential tying run with two outs in the ninth.
"My bat speed is absolutely gone. It's just not there," Freeman said. "I don't feel as good. It's good enough to play, but [the bat speed] is gone. I'm doing my best, and we're doing the strength stuff. Hopefully, I can get some strength at the end of the season."
Freeman hit .400/.438/.800 with three homers over the first seven games he played after returning from the DL on July 4. All seemed right, until his wrist began to steadily lose strength over time. He has hit .276/.365/.471 with seven homers over his past 46 games.
While those are certainly respectable numbers, they fall below the expectations set by Freeman, who had hit .341 with 14 homers and a 1.209 OPS before his wrist was fractured by a pitch thrown by Blue Jays left-handed reliever Aaron Loup on May 17.
Freeman admits he has struggled to regain the confidence he needs to keep his body quiet as left-handers routinely pitch him inside. As a result, he has hit just .175 with a .680 OPS against southpaws since the All-Star break. He had hit .382 with a 1.183 OPS against them before the break.
"I was doing just fine against lefties before they broke my wrist," Freeman said. "I've just got to get myself to stay in there again. Most of the time, people just say, 'We'll see how the wrist is.' But there's a mental part to it. You've got lefties throwing 94- or 95-[mph] two-seamers up and in on your hands because they need to throw it to get me out. So it's just more mental stuff right now."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.