Fredi on Freddie: Rookie in Gold Glove race

Fredi on Freddie: Rookie in Gold Glove race

Fredi on Freddie: Rookie in Gold Glove race
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is starting to become a broken record when he talks about first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Deservedly so.

Gonzalez continued his praise for the 21-year-old rookie on Wednesday when he said Freeman should be in the race for a Gold Glove by season's end.

Freeman has been flashing the leather of late, including two potential game-saving snags that lined down the first-base line in Tuesday's 19-inning win over the Pirates. Gonzalez compared Freeman to a younger Derrek Lee, who he said is one of the best he's ever seen.

"He's the best I've ever seen, Derrek Lee, at first base and around the bag," Gonzalez said. "The best. [Albert] Pujols has won Gold Gloves, and Todd Helton has won Gold Gloves, but for me, he is the best. By me just comparing [Freeman] to him says how much I like him."

Freeman will likely find himself in the thick of the National League Rookie of the Year chase at the end of the season. He entered Thursday second among NL rookies in batting average (.287), homers (15), RBIs (51), multi-hit games (27) and runs (47) -- then added a three-hit game in Friday's 5-2 loss to the Bucs.

"He changes his approach when he gets two strikes," Gonzalez said. "He really puts his nose in there, and he's looking to make contact. You can see that as soon as he gets two strikes. You can even see him choke up a little bit. You don't see that very often anymore."

Freeman extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single on Thursday, and earlier this season, he became the first Braves rookie since Hank Aaron to reach 50 RBIs before July 18.

"He's 21. What is he, a junior in college?" Gonzalez said. "And he's playing with men for the most part. You don't start getting your man muscles, your mature muscles, until you starting getting to 23, 24, 25 years old. I think you'll see a lot more from him."