“I’ve got nothing left, really,” Freddie Freeman told reporters following the Braves’ 14-12 loss to the Cubs on Saturday. Freeman went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and RBI double, but consider his extra-base efforts a rare silver lining. His left wrist has been bothering him since he fractured it on a hit-by-pitch back in May, and even after a lengthy stint on the disabled list, he appears to be losing strength at an alarming rate. “It feels like I’m swinging a wet newspaper,” he added.
It’s unclear how the Braves will proceed with their infielder, but it doesn’t look good for the remainder of Freeman’s season with the club. Despite continued efforts to build up strength in his wrist, his bat speed is “absolutely gone,” and with it, his power numbers against left-handed pitchers. Over 102 plate appearances against lefties, Freeman carries a .250/.343/.477 batting line and just five home runs, making Saturday’s two-run shot off of Chicago left-hander Jon Lester all the more impressive.
Overall, however, the 27-year-old has posted remarkable numbers in 2017, especially given the 47 days he missed due to injury. He slashed .311/.409/.602 with 23 home runs and a 1.011 OPS in 391 PA leading up to the loss this weekend, and while his 3.7 fWAR isn’t close to the career 6.1 mark he set in 2016, it’s enough to make him the most valuable hitter on the Braves’ roster this season. It’s clear that Freeman isn’t leaving anything on the field, but if the club expects a return to an MVP-level production rate in 2018, it might be time to try a more conservative approach while he works his way back up to full strength.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.