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:
1B Freddie Freeman has been scratched as a precaution with right elbow inflammation. 1B Yonder Alonso will hit third and play first base. https://t.co/iQxGy9wJTw
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) February 25, 2020
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.