Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left today’s spring action with a right wrist issue, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Such a potentially minor occurrence might not warrant mention for most players, but Freeman missed significant time last year owing to issues in the same area, and he was proceeding cautiously as he ramps up for the 2016 season. (Indeed, as O’Brien has previously written, Freeman has long dealt with difficulties in his right wrist and hand.) For now, it’s only a situation to monitor, but there’s obviously added concern in his case.
Here’s more on Freeman and some other interesting players in the NL East:
- Of course, Freeman was the topic of plenty of trade speculation this winter as the Braves continued to tweak their player assets — at least until GM John Coppolella made as clear as possible that Freeman wouldn’t be going anywhere. ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark explores the big lefty’s interesting offseason, reporting that Atlanta may have been closer to moving Freeman at one point than the organization has been willing to acknowledge. Coppolella denies that anything ever seriously progressed, while acknowledging that there was outside interest (which, of course, is no surprise). Freeman himself said he heard a lot of the chatter, but was eventually put to ease by the front office. And Coppolella explains that the first bagger is the organization’s “rock.” You’ll want to read the whole piece for the full story, as it is full of interesting content.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo had some interesting comments today in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). He said that righty Stephen Strasburg “could be a long-term fit” in DC and suggested that the organization would seek to explore a new deal with the pending free agent. While “health is obviously a big factor with him,” said Rizzo, it seems clear that the Nats at least have interest in seeing what an extension (or, potentially, a free agent deal) would look like. The club GM and president also talked about star Bryce Harper’s long-term status, saying that the “money part of it … is going to be extreme and complicated” while noting that he feels the Nationals have done a good job of selling Harper on the organization as a fit down the line.
- Rizzo also talked more Nationals matters on the podcast of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. In addition to providing some more thoughts about Strasburg and Harper, more from an on-field than a contractual perspective, Rizzo spoke at length about top shortstop prospect Trea Turner. The Nats’ head baseball decisionmaker wouldn’t commit to an Opening Day roster job for the youngster, but also didn’t rule it out, and emphasized that Turner is “not far away from the big leagues” while crediting him not only with 80-grade speed, but also outstanding maturity. As for the deal that brought him to DC, Rizzo tipped his cap to the scouts who helped to identify Turner and Joe Ross as targets within the Padres organization. He explained further: “[W]hen they showed interest in Steven Souza … we made it clear that, you know, we had to have these two players in the trade or we wouldn’t be interested in moving Souza.” The Nats were able to “get involved in a three-team trade later in the process” — the Rays, of course, being the organization that ultimately ended up with Souza — to land a return that has looked quite promising ever since the deal was struck.
- Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia spoke again with the media today, emphasizing — as he said recently — that he was not using any banned substances when he was tagged with his second and third positive tests, as Laura Albanese of Newsday reports (Twitter links). While he acknowledged his initial suspension was valid, he “framed it as an accident,” by Albanese’s characterization. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com notes on Twitter that it appears Mejia’s lifetime ban was never formally appealed, so there may be some possibility that he could still have a chance at contesting the decision. As Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News reports, it appears Mejia will attempt to do just that, though it should be noted there could well be procedural hurdles. For its part, the league issued a strong statement rejecting Mejia’s claims of a conspiracy against him, calling the righty a “repeated user of banned performance-enhancing substances” who is doing nothing more than “hiring aggressive lawyers and making wild, unsupported allegations about the conduct of others in an effort to clear their names.” Newsday’s David Lennon was among those to tweet the full statement.