Freeman closing in on another 30-HR campaign

Freeman closing in on another 30-HR campaign

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman will never know what might have happened had a fractured wrist not halted the MVP-caliber season he was producing through this campaign's first six weeks. The lingering effects of the injury caused him to recently feel weaker than normal. But as the finish line nears, Freeman is starting to look like one of baseball's best offensive threats once again.

Though Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom was dominant throughout the seven innings he completed during Saturday's 7-3 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park, he was not able to subdue Freeman, who highlighted his eighth multi-hit performance of the month with a seventh-inning solo shot -- his third home run in the past five games.

"I'm obviously encouraged," Freeman said. " I'm just trying to make it through. I feel pretty decent right now. I think we have 15 games left, so I'm going to keep grinding it out all the way to the end."

Despite missing nearly seven full weeks after his left wrist was fractured by a pitch during a May 17 game against the Blue Jays, Freeman is just three homers away from his second straight 30-homer season. His 27 home runs are eight more than any other Braves player has hit this year. That's pretty impressive, considering he missed 44 games -- slightly more than a quarter of the season.

"I got off to a nice start and then had that little bump in the road," Freeman said. "Hopefully, I can continue and hit three more in 15 games. That definitely would be nice."

Despite recording two extra-base hits during a Sept. 2 loss at Wrigley Field, Freeman let a game-ending strikeout and a few weeks' worth of frustration boil over when during a postgame interview he said his wrist was weak and it felt like he was "swinging a wet newspaper."

Braves management was bothered by the comments and talked to Freeman the next day to let him know he wouldn't continue to play on a daily basis if the wrist was becoming as problematic as he had described. The veteran first baseman admitted his words were influenced by the heat of the moment and has since continued to be quite productive while pursuing his goal to play every game the rest of the way.

Freeman has preserved some strength by not taking batting practice on the field over the past two weeks.

Dating back to the day the "wet newspaper" comment was made, Freeman has batted .364, compiled a 1.134 OPS and homered once every 13.75 at-bats. He will enter Sunday with three homers in his past 32 at-bats.

When Freeman fractured his wrist, he was batting .341 with a 1.209 OPS and a 9.64 at-bat-to-homer ratio. The sample size is different, but this month's production has at least provided reason to believe the Braves first baseman is starting to get back to where he was.

"It's baseball," Freeman said. "Crazy things happen and crazy injuries happen. It happened to me this year. I have to put that behind me like I have and keep producing."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.