Just three days after being voted into the All-Star Game by a record number of fans, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman sustained a jammed thumb on the first play of the game in Saturday's 5-2 win over Cincinnati that will keep him off the field in Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.
Freeman will still travel to New York City for the All-Star festivities, but the Braves announced on Sunday afternoon that he would not play in the game itself.
The 23-year-old first baseman was wearing a soft splint on his left hand on Sunday morning and dealing with swelling in his left thumb from when he turned his glove hand into the path of Reds outfielder Chris Heisey while making a tag in the first inning. Catcher Brian McCann went out to the mound to give Freeman time to test his thumb, and Freeman stayed in to finish the game, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts at the plate and wearing a batting glove under his first baseman's mitt in the field.
Freeman said that he jammed the same thumb sliding headfirst in 2010 with Triple-A Gwinnett and that the splint was primarily a precaution.
Before the announcement was made, his manager was adamant that Freeman would make the trip to New York City regardless of his playing status.
"I think he needs to go, and if he can participate, participate," Fredi Gonzalez said. "If he can't participate, don't participate. He needs to go and, at the very least, enjoy himself."
Freeman will meet with Dr. Gary Lourie in Atlanta on Thursday to re-evaluate the injury before the Braves decide how he will be used in the first series after the break against the White Sox.
A few hours after Freeman learned a left thumb injury would prevent him from playing, Major League Baseball announced National League manager Bruce Bochy had selected McCann to serve as Freeman's replacement.
Bochy's decision to go with McCann was primarily influenced by the fact that he wants to carry three catchers on his roster that already included Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, who has spent the past week dealing with an inflamed right knee.
But it also could to do with the fact that Bochy still remembers the game-winning double McCann recorded in the 2010 All-Star Game. The hit provided McCann his only All-Star MVP Award and the Giants a chance to own home-field advantage as they beat the Rangers in that season's World Series.
McCann earned six straight All-Star selections from 2006-11 and then missed last year while dealing with a right shoulder ailment that forced him to undergo offseason surgery and miss this season's first five weeks. Since returning to his everyday role as Atlanta's catcher, he has produced like he did while winning five NL Silver Slugger Awards.
McCann entered Sunday hitting .291 with 12 home runs and a .910 OPS, which ranked second only to Posey among NL catchers with at least 200 plate appearances. The Braves veteran enhanced his All-Star credentials while hitting .440 with a 1.282 OPS in his past 13 games.
"It's huge," McCann said. "A lot of hard work went into this winter to be in this position. The rehab that I put in, it's all paying off right now."
McCann will enjoy this year's Midsummer Classic with Braves closer Craig Kimbrel and Freeman, who will travel to New York to enjoy the honor he received by garnering more votes than any player in the history of the All-Star Final Vote balloting process.
--- Source: MLB.com
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt