Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. won't miss Freddie Freeman, says they had 'clashes'
Freddie Freeman's departure from the Atlanta Braves this winter was surprising, but one of his teammates wasn't sad to see him sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ronald Acuña Jr. discussed his relationship with Freeman in a recent Instagram Live interview with journalist Yancen Pujols, and according to Acuña, it doesn't seem like there was much of a relationship at all — or a positive one, at least.
Part of Ronald Acuña Jr.'s Instagram Live interview.
(via r/Braves) pic.twitter.com/boUaZC3kJU
— Baseball GIFs 🤡🤡🤡 (@gifs_baseball) April 7, 2022
Alden Gonzalez of ESPN translated the Freeman section of Acuña's interview, and here's the first part:
Pujols: What are you gonna miss the most about Freddie Freeman?
Acuña: Me, nothing.
Pujols: You didn't talk to him?
Pujols: You guys weren't close?
Acuña: We were close in that we shared the same stadium, but we had a lot of, how do you say...
Pujols: Lots of clashes.
Acuña: Lots of clashes.
Acuña didn't go into detail about any of the specific clashes he had with Freeman. But when Pujols asked him why they had "lots of clashes," Acuña said that veterans picked on him a lot when he was a rookie. He recalled an incident during his rookie year in which Braves veterans — presumably including Freeman — physically wiped the eye black off his face.
Acuña: That's happened throughout time. When you come up as a rookie, there's always someone who [wants to tell you how to do things]. You come up from the minor leagues with the big eye black, the sunglasses, the hat low, and a lot of people see that as wrong. And the other person doesn't see it as wrong because it's part of the game. A lot of veterans [picked on me] when I was a rookie and they called me into the office themselves and told me, 'No, you can't use that' and they took it off me with a towel like that. And I said 'OK, that's fine.'
Pujols: You stayed quiet?
Acuña: Yeah, of course. I can't say anything, you know? I just said, 'One day I'll be a veteran.' I'm not saying I'm a veteran right now, but nobody's gonna take the eye black off my face now, you know?
Acuña didn't specifically say that Freeman was there, but Freeman was a Braves veteran, and Acuña mentioned the story while discussing his relationship with Freeman.
Freeman moving on was a big change for the Braves and their fans, but it seems like it's one that Acuña welcomed. However, in response to a tweet roughly outlining what he said during the interview, Acuña tweeted a denial.
I NEVER SAY THAT 🤡🤡🤡
— Ronald Acuna Jr (@ronaldacunajr24) April 7, 2022
The discussion continued when Acuña arrived at Truist Park for the Braves' opener. Speaking with reporters in the clubhouse, Acuña claimed reporters had exaggerated his words and denied saying anything bad about Freeman at all.
He did not, however, deny that he doesn't miss Freeman.
Ronald Acuña Jr. spoke in the Braves clubhouse re: his Instagram live comments. He said his comments were exaggerated and blown out of proportion. Here are some highlights, w/his answers translated directly from Spanish pic.twitter.com/xIhUbAppv0
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) April 7, 2022
Freddie Freeman: Braves rules forbade excessive eye black
Freeman responded to Acuña via an interview with MLB Network in which he acknowledged discouraging the young outfielder from wearing eye black, but ascribed those actions to the enforcement of Braves organizational rules banning excessive eye black, earrings and hair of a certain length.
"I didn't view it as any friction or clashes or anything like that. I loved Ronald, I still love Ronald, I'm gonna miss Ronald..." - @FreddieFreeman5 #MLBTonight pic.twitter.com/O1RSMnTICE
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 7, 2022
The key part of Freeman's comments:
I saw the eye black situation. When you put on a Braves uniform in that organization, there's organizational rules. You don't cover the 'A' with sunglasses. You don't wear earrings. You have your hair a certain length. You wear a uniform out during BP. You don't have eye black coming down across your whole face.
Those are just organizational things, so, I guess I was one of the older guys that did have to enforce those kinds of things in the clubhouse, but when you put on a Braves uniform, those are kind of what happens there. I didn't view it as any friction or clashes or anything like that. I loved Ronald, I still love Ronald. I'm going to miss Ronald, my family is going to miss Ronald and I can't wait for him to get on the field again because the game of baseball needs him.
Freeman recalled an incident in which he had to change shoes during a Braves road trip because an organizational higher-up told him tennis shoes were forbidden. Certain MLB teams are known for enforcing such dress codes, most notably the New York Yankees' infamous facial hair ban.
In case you were curious, the Dodgers' first game against the Braves is this month, on April 18.