ATLANTA (AP) - Freddie Freeman is back in the Braves’ starting lineup, wearing sports glasses he hopes will be a cure for his vision problems.
Freeman says he was the first player in the clubhouse on Wednesday and immediately tore into a package waiting at his locker. He pulled out his Oakley sports glasses and took off for the batting cage, still wearing his shorts and polo shirt.
The first baseman emerged from the cage smiling and handing out high-fives to manager Fredi Gonzalez and others.
“You should have seen him,” Gonzalez said. “I heard this commotion coming down the hallway. I was like ‘What’s going on?’ It was him in his street clothes with his goggles on and he just came out of the batting cage.
“He swung the bat great. Felt great. Comfortable. So he’s back in there.”
Freeman’s good swings before the game set the pace for a first-inning homer, his eighth, off Kyle Lohse. Pitcher Tim Hudson greeted Freeman at the dugout by holding his fingers in circles over his eyes, as if he also were wearing glasses.
Freeman had missed four straight starts, but he has battled vision problems most of the month. He said he had to give up on wearing contacts because his eyes are too dry, causing a burning sensation and blurry vision.
Regular glasses were not an option because he can’t see pitches clearly from his closed batting stance. The new sports glasses have lenses that curve around the corners of the frame, making it possible for him to see when batting.
“I don’t care what they look like but I can see and that’s all that matters,” Freeman said. “I can hit in my normal stance and everything. I can see the ball and I can see the pitcher and everything.”
The problems began during a three-game series in Colorado on May 4-6. Since then, Freeman’s batting average has plummeted from .298 to .247, including a current 1-for-17 slide.
“I haven’t really had a smile on my face lately but I’m pretty happy now,” Freeman said.
“I’ve never been this happy before.”