Freeman eager for a healthy, productive season

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Freddie Freeman is noticeably slimmer, but the first baseman and the Atlanta Braves hope that won't be the only thing different in 2013.
A season free of health concerns certainly would be nice.
Freeman tweaked a knee and then badly bruised his left index finger last season while all battling eye issues.
Freeman still hit 23 homers and drove in 94 runs, but his average slipped to .259 in his second season. More production is needed in 2013, with the 23-year-old expected to start the season as the Braves' cleanup hitter.
"He looks great," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think he's going to have a good year."
Freeman, batting .333 with two homes and six RBI after his first 14 spring games, feels the same way.
"My finger is good, my knee is good, and my eyes, everything is great," he said. "If I can just stay this way, I can have a big year."
Freeman had trouble gripping the bat after injuring his finger last June when hit by a throw while sliding into second base. He was trying to cope with vision issues even before that.
"I never had that 100 percent confidence in my eyes," he said.
The 2011 runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year considered laser surgery during the offseason, but he will stick with contact lens. He has new protective glasses to wear in the field.
"Last year was just a weird one," Freeman said. "I didn't see well and I had my finger injury, so it never felt right."
Freeman, who hit .282 with 21 homers and 76 RBI in 2011, tried to put on weight after his rookie season. This winter, he took it off.
"He came into camp about 10 pounds lighter," Gonzalez said. "He looks stronger."
"I ate right and worked hard," said Freeman, who had Dan Uggla as his workout partner. "It was insane how much stronger I started to feel right away. I can't wait to get the season started."