LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has spent the past few days fighting to regain the swing that allowed him to consistently drive the ball the other way last year. With a little more than three weeks remaining before the start of the regular season, he can be encouraged by the fact that this is a much greater concern than his previously-ailing right knee.
"I wear a brace only in games now," Freeman said. "It's almost a hassle putting on a brace. I feel like I don't need it. But they won't be too happy with me if I don't wear it. I feel great."
Freeman joined the Braves lineup on March 6, exactly one week after his right kneecap popped out of place during a fielding drill. Most of the discomfort the 22-year-old has since battled has more to do with the fact that he has batted just .162 (6-for-37) with no extra-base hits in his first 11 Grapefruit League games.
"I haven't been hitting the ball to left field with authority like I was last year," Freeman said. "Everything is just opening up a little too much for me right now. I've got two more weeks to get myself going the other way like I normally do."
Freeman recorded a sharp, opposite-field single that raced past third base and into left field in the fifth inning of Sunday's game against the Orioles. He said he will feel comfortable with his swing and approach when he begins consistently hitting line drives to left field again.