Freddie Freeman Denies Reports Of Friction With Ronald Acuña Jr.

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After helping lead the Atlanta Braves to their first World Series title since 1995, Freddie Freeman became a free agent for the first time in his 12-year MLB career. It was widely expected the sides would quickly work out a new contract, but that never happened due to a reported disagreement over the inclusion of a sixth year.

The Braves ultimately went in a different direction by acquiring All-Star first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, and Freeman signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite the perception of Freeman being liked by all in the Braves organization, Ronald Acuña Jr. reportedly was critical of his former teammate during an interview on Instagram. Acuña implied there was a disagreement between the two when he joined the Braves as a rookie and wanted to wear his eye black a specific way.

During an appearance on MLB Network, Freeman downplayed reports of animosity and said he will miss having Acuña as a teammate:

“Obviously I’ve heard everything that was said, but I’m going to miss Ronald. Charlie is going to miss Ronald, my family is going to miss Ronald. That’s my side of it. I love Ronald Acuña and I can’t wait for him to get healthy and get on the field. I think he’s great for the game of baseball and is a talent that’s going to be talked about for 100-plus years because those kind of talents don’t come around in this game. I saw the eye black situation. When you put on a Braves uniform, 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 during BP, you don’t have eye black coming down across your whole face.

“Those are just organization things, so I guess I was one of the older guys that did have to enforce those kind of things in the clubhouse. But when you put on a Braves uniform, that’s 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 further elaborated on the incident with Acuña and explained he was merely enforcing the Braves’ longstanding uniform policy:

“It’s organizational rules. That’s how I came in; those were in place. In 2016, two years before Ronald got called up, I had Christian Louboutin shoes on. You’re supposed to wear nice clothes on the road, a collared shirt, jeans, and in my mind, those aren’t tennis shoes. So I had someone who was higher up in the organization come up to me on the road and said, ‘Hey, we don’t wear tennis shoes on the road.’ This was in 2016. I said, ‘I know we don’t wear tennis shoes on the road.’ He goes, ‘You have tennis shoes on.’ I said, ‘I can’t play tennis in these shoes. I thought these were nice shoes.’ He goes, ’No, you have to have a heel on the shoe in this organization.’ Back then it was like those Cole Haan shoes, those little dress-up shoes, so I said, ‘Oh, OK. Sounds good.’ I had just gone to Brandon Hicks’ wedding and I had to wear cowboy boots, so the rest of the year I wore cowboy boots because they had heels on them. Those are just little rules the Braves organization had. I was just OK with it. I just said yes and did them. It’s unfortunate he viewed it like that, but we were always told you put on a Braves uniform, you’re supposed to act a little different and hold yourself a little differently. I just tried to uphold those rules the best I could.”

Freeman also spoke again on Friday but declined to expand on his comments, reiterating his focus is on moving forward with the Dodgers.

Since his purported comments began to spread across social media, Acuña denied criticizing Freeman. However, Dominican Republic-based reporter Yancen Pujols, who conducted the interview on Instagram Live, claimed Acuña did share those remarks about Freeman.

Dodgers matching Rays’ 6-year contract played ‘key role’ in Freeman decision

The Dodgers initially tried luring Freeman with a four-year contract and high average annual salary (AAV), but reportedly secured his commitment once they matched the Rays’ six-year offer.

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