The Atlanta Braves began Spring Training this week when pitchers and catchers reported to the team’s facility at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Sunday. The position players began to filter in yesterday and one of the team’s older players reportedly arrived in pretty good shape.
According to Cory McCartney of Fox Sports South, outfielder Matt Kemp, who was acquired from the Padres for Hector Olivera at the trade deadline last year, looked to be in great shape. Both first baseman Freddie Freeman and manager Brian Snitker commented on how impressive Kemp looked.
From the article:
“He looks great,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman upon his arrival. “He kind of looks like he did when he was with the Dodgers and hopefully he plays like that too.”
Added manager Brian Snitker: “He’s in great shape. That’s really good. He’s a big man. And we saw what he can do for a club, what he did for us.”
This kind of story comes out of spring training for every team this time of year as guys have inevitably been working out all offseason in order to get ready for the upcoming year. The larger point that McCartney makes however, is that a more in shape Kemp could benefit Braves slugger Freddie Freeman.
Consider the following:
“Last season, Freeman erupted after the Braves acquired Kemp in a July 30 deal with the Padres and put him behind the first baseman n the lineup. With Kemp at fourth, Freeman hit .340/.456/.665 with 16 homers and 18 doubles.
Kemp produced on his own, with a .280/.336/.519 slash line, 12 homer runs and 15 doubles and drove in 39 runs in 241 plate appearances.”
As the team gets set to open up their brand new ballpark, SunTrust Park, the team made plenty of moves to try and be more competitive this season and a healthy, leaner Kemp paired with Freeman could be a dangerous middle of the order. One thing we know for sure, Kemp’s swing looks pretty in slow motion.