LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A frustrated Freddie Freeman went through the final four months of last season wondering when his injured left index finger would allow him to grip a baseball bat in pain-free fashion. He received his answer when he began taking batting practice after the arrival of the new year.
"The first week of January, I was able to make a full fist," Freeman said. "That was when the excitement hit me. I was like, 'Yes, it's fully healthy.' Even when I had been working out, doing curls and other things, I could still feel it in my fingers. But back in [the summer], they were telling me that I wouldn't be able to make a fist until Christmas."
Freeman's left index finger was badly bruised when he was hit with a Jose Reyes throw while sliding with his arm extended toward the former Marlins shortstop on June 6. Freeman played in just seven games of the two weeks that followed, and he felt restricted with his swing during the remainder of the season.
"I started hitting with Dan [Uggla] last month," Freeman said. "It was a lot of fun knowing that I was fully healthy."
Freeman injured his finger around the time he was starting to overcome the vision problems that plagued him throughout May. The 23-year-old first baseman is also happy to say that he has not experienced any recent problems with his eyesight. He has found a comfortable pair of contact lenses that he plans to protect with clear Oakley sunglasses that are expected to arrive within the next two weeks.
Freeman's vision became a problem immediately after he had been named National League Player of the Week for the second time in the season's first five weeks. He batted .298 with six home runs and a .864 OPS in his first 28 games. Burdened by the blurred eyesight and sore finger, he batted . 251 with 17 homers and a .781 OPS in his final 118 games.