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Freddie Freeman is having elbow problems again

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Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman dealt with some pretty serious elbow issues late in the 2019 season. He never hit the injured list — and he didn’t get the sort of time off a lot of people felt he should have in the runup to the playoffs — and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September and a non-factor in the Braves’ five-game NLDS loss to the Cardinals.

In October Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, which involved the removal of fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spurs. He was given a clean bill of health after the surgery and, as you might expect, there were a lot of “Freddie Freeman is feeling better and ready to go for spring training” chatter in the past couple of months.

Welp, so much for that:

The word “precautionary” is probably worth noting now, but it’s not hard to see this as a reaction to Freeman actually doing more strenuous baseball things for the first time since being patched up. Which makes one wonder if he will be good to go as spring training wears on and the season gets underway.

Freeman has been the most important guy in the Braves’ lineup for years and years, but even with his fantastic production in 2019 — he hit .295/.389/.549 with a career-high 38 homers — there will be more pressure on him this season given the loss of Josh Donaldson to free agency.

As such, it’s an elbow worth watching.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.