Braves fans are holding their collective breaths this afternoon following a pair of split-squad games, one of which resulted in an apparent injury to first baseman Freddie Freeman. After striking out in the second inning of Friday’s tilt against the Philadelphia Phillies, Freeman was seen favoring his right wrist as he proceeded back toward the Braves dugout. Freeman was unavailable for questioning after the game, vowing to have an update on the situation sometime on Saturday.
Given Freeman’s red-hot start in Grapefruit League play, it is disconcerting to see him once again favoring the right wrist that plagued for so much of the 2015 season. Freeman was limited to just 118 games a season ago due to a nagging wrist injury, which greatly affected the Braves as they went just 25-48 in the second half. While there are no concrete details to suggest that the injury has recurred in the same manner, the concern is warranted given Freeman’s importance to a once again middling Braves roster.
Though we will have to wait to determine the extent of Freeman’s injury in today’s game, the possibility of him missing some time could create a potential roster spot for veteran Nick Swisher. After being acquired by Atlanta in a trade with the Cleveland Indians last August, Swisher made 10 starts at first base in Freeman’s absence. Another injury to Freeman could create a need for Swisher on the opening-day roster despite multiple reports that the front office has been in talks to move him and the $15 million he is owed this season. Swisher’s age and injury history have severely limited his range in the outfield, thus reducing his value, but his experience at first base could become a valuable asset if Freeman’s injury forces him to miss any extended time. Even the recurrence of the injury for a brief stint could give the Braves enough incentive to keep Swisher as a fallback option. This is an interesting time for both Swisher and the Braves front office after some recent reports have suggested that former Brave standout Jeff Francoeur‘s return could spell the end of Swisher’s tenure in Atlanta.
We can only wait to see what the diagnosis for Freeman’s wrist may entail, but we can certainly speculate as to what might happen in the aftermath. Swisher is obviously not going to wish ill upon a teammate, but this scenario could increase the necessity for having an experienced first baseman on the roster, regardless of the cost. This will be something to watch over the remainder of camp as the Braves decide what course of action would give them the best insurance in case of a major injury to Freeman. Stay tuned and let’s all hope that tomorrow’s results will not jeopardize what little hope Braves fans have for the upcoming season.