With each passing day, we get closer to the Atlanta Braves Spring Training opener on February 24th. Since baseball is just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to look back on unforgettable moments from Braves Spring Training.
While Spring Training is just an opportunity for players to get into shape for the long haul of the regular season, it also provides fans with an opportunity to see their favorite players in a scaled-down capacity. This can make seeing exciting moments even more special. Let's check out a few moments from recent Braves history.
Freddie Freeman mic’d up
Freddie Freeman was a fan favorite in Atlanta not just because of his Hall of Fame caliber statistics but his personality as well. In March of 2020, Freddie Freeman was mic’d up during a Spring Training game to give fans a taste of the on-field action.
Freeman reached first base with two outs in the first inning. As Freddie Freeman was chatting with the guys in the booth, including Chipper Jones, Marcell Ozuna hit a pop up that Freeman knew no one was going to catch. He took off sprinting around the bases like a gazelle on the savanna repeating “I’m going to score, there’s wind boys. There’s wind.” He was absolutely correct and scored from first off a lazy pop fly.
That remains one of the most hilarious moments in Braves history period. He slid into home plate and popped up giving his best impression of Russell Crowe in Gladitor with his arms out and without saying a word we know he's asking the booth, "Are you not entertained?!"
Freeman had an incredible amount of charisma and you knew he was always having the time of his life on a baseball diamond. Between his exclaims and Chipper giving him grief from the booth, this moment will always be remembered.
Matt Olson leads league in home runs
Many would argue that Spring Training statistics do not matter. While that is true in most cases, something happened in 2023 that is hard to see as a coincidence for Matt Olson. In 18 appearances during Spring Training, Olson blasted a total of 8 home runs which was good enough for the league lead.
8 homers may not sound too impressive at first glance, but to do it in 18 games in which he usually only played part of the game makes that accomplishment astonishing. It was also impressive how hard he hit the ball and some of them were moonshots. He seemed locked in from day one. Olson kept his stride when the regular season rolled around and ended the year with 54 long balls, the most in all of baseball.
Olson also broke the Atlanta Braves franchise records for home runs in a season and runs batted in. It's safe to say he's loving his move to Atlanta and will look to repeat his performance in 2024.
Bizarre Ending in 2023
With Spring Training games essentially being exhibition contests, ties are fairly common. However, the Braves were a part of the most interesting tie in MLB Spring Training history.
Going into 2023, everyone was aware of the major rule changes such as bigger bases and the implementation of a pitch clock. There was going to be a learning curve for everyone involved but how strictly these rules were going to be enforced was a question that was answered early.
The Braves were facing the Boston Red Sox and found themselves tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Prospect Cal Conley stepped into the box with a chance to prove he could handle high-leverage situations. With the bases loaded and the winning run 90 feet away, he worked the count full.
Before the most anticipated pitch of the afternoon, Conley was deemed in violation of the pitch clock by not being ready in the batter's box with 8 seconds left on the clock. This resulted in a game-ending strike out and the game ended in a tie. Albeit Spring Training, the most dramatic baseball situation imaginable was decided by a clock.
Fans are still getting used to the new rules and the pitch clock has gotten even shorter for 2024. Hopefully, the Braves won't be on the negative end of these rule changes in Spring Training or the regular season.