Braves' Acuña Confirms He Had 'Lots Of Clashes' With Ex-Teammate Freeman
By Jason Hall
April 7, 2022
Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. confirmed a rift between himself and former teammate Freddie Freeman ahead of Major League Baseball's Opening Day festivities this week.
Acuña spoke with Dominican Republic-based sports reporter Yancen Pujols late Wednesday (April 6) on Instagram Live and was asked what he'd miss most about Freeman, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after the Braves -- presumed to have lost the former NL MVP -- acquired Matt Olson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.
"Me?" Acuna responded in Spanish, as transcribed by ESPN. "Nothing."
Pujols asked Acuña if he'd been close with Freeman during their four seasons together, which included winning a World Series in 2021.
"We were close in that we shared the same stadium," Acuna said, "but we had a lot of, how do you say ..."
"Lots of clashes," Pujols chimed in.
"Lots of clashes," Acuna said while nodding.
Acuña said the rift between himself and Freeman came during his rookie season in 2018.
"When you come up as a rookie, there's always someone who [wants to tell you how to do things]," Acuna said. "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 [the eye black] off me with a towel like that. And I said, 'OK, that's fine.'"
Pujols followed that statement by asking if the then-rookie Acuña stayed quiet.
"Yeah, of course. I can't say anything, you know?" Acuna said. "I just said, 'One day I'll be a veteran.' I'm not saying I'm a veteran right now, but nobody's going to take the eye black off my face now, you know?"
Last month, the Braves acquired Olson, 27, an Atlanta native, from the A's in exchange for catcher Shea Langeliers, outfielder Cristian Pache, right-handed pitcher Ryan Cusick and right-handed pitcher Joey Estes.
The move came amid Freeman's free agency and reports that he'd received strong interest from the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, before ultimately signing a six-year, $162 million deal with Los Angeles.
Olson is coming off his first career All-Star appearance during the 2021 season, which saw him hit for a career-best .271 average, 39 home runs and 111 RBI.
Acuña is still recovering from an ACL injury he experienced last season and has yet to reveal his timetable for the 2022 season, with the Braves hosting the Cincinnati Reds in their season opener Thursday (April 7) night.