First baseman Freddie Freeman missed another start Monday because of continuing vision problems, and there is no easy solution.
Wind and dry air in Colorado when the Braves played the Rockies on May 4-6 were only the beginning. His actual prescription has changed since, from 1.5 in each eye to 1.75 and 2, and that isn’t all.
Freeman no longer is able to make tears, not even after a procedure to plug the lower ducts.
The idea was that plugging the ducts would force the upper ducts to produce tears that would wash over and cleanse his eyes. But that hasn’t happened. His frustration and worry grow each day.
Because catcher Brian McCann experienced vision problems after laser surgery, Freeman has been reluctant to go that route. But he’s starting to reconsider.
“This is a nightmare,” Freeman said.
Freeman is waiting for specially-designed glasses that will, he hopes, offer wraparound vision. Regular glasses are not an option for him at the plate because of his batting stance.
His face is not square to the plate, so he needs to be able to see the ball coming from the side. To change his stance so he can see the ball is obviously not a good idea for someone who recently became the Braves’ three-hole hitter.
Freeman has had no depth perception since Colorado, and in Cincinnati, where the Braves were swept by the Reds in a four-game series May 21-24, he was seeing two balls coming at him.
The original problem was that wind-blown dirt scratched the cornea in the right eye and the outside of his left eye. But he was able to continue playing because the blurring wasn’t in the middle of his vision.
That changed, and he sat out the May 15 game when the Reds were at Turner Field. He sat out again on the 24th.
After that, manager Fredi Gonzalez made the decision to sit him down after seeing how frustrated and uncomfortable Freeman was in batting practice.
Infielder-outfielder Eric Hinske is holding down the fort in Freeman’s absence. He’s more agile than he looks, although not as tall as Freeman, so he can’t grab everything Freeman does. But he’s no three-hole hitter on offense.
In Monday’s 8-2 loss to the Cardinals, that role was filled by McCann, starting for the first time since he was felled by the flu May 22. He went 0 for 4, but felt good. Good enough that he expects to start on Tuesday.
MLB Team Report – Atlanta Braves – NOTES, QUOTES
–C Brian McCann made his first start since May 21. He’s suffered from a major case of the flu since then, and is still raspy, sniffling and weak. But he wants to play and the Braves need his bat. He hit third Monday, going 0-for-4. But he felt good. Good enough that he expects to start on Tuesday.
–1B Freddie Freeman remains out because of vision issues. He is expecting custom sports glasses that will wrap around, allowing him to maintain his batting stance, which doesn’t have him directly facing the pitcher.
–3B Chipper Jones, on the disabled list because of a severe left ankle bruise, is able to do leg presses but not leg extensions or hamstring curls, so he is concerned about atrophy in his calf and quad muscles.
–LHP Jonny Venters’s ball is going sideways instead of up and down, and the reason appears to be a hitch in his mechanics. He’s tinkering with the positioning of his hand.
–RHP Kris Medlen said he doesn’t consistently have a feel for his pitches since his Tommy John surgery, and he thinks that’s because his arm slot might be a little higher than it was before.
BY THE NUMBERS: .299 — CF Michael Bourn’s batting average, the first time it’s been under .300 since April 20.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “This is a nightmare.” — 1B Freddie Freeman, on his ongoing vision problems.
BRAVES MEDICAL WATCH
–3B Juan Francisco (right hamstring) was injured May 26, and he didn’t start May 27.
–C David Ross (groin pull) left the May 25 game, and he didn’t play May 26-27. He’s day-to-day.
–C Brian McCann (flu-like symptoms) did not play May 22-24. He was pressed into duty May 25, but he didn’t start May 26-27. He is day-to-day.
–1B Freddie Freeman (blurred vision) did not play May 24. He returned May 25, but he didn’t play May 26-27.
–3B Chipper Jones (bruised left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. He had his bruise — officially a hematoma — drained May 26.
–RHP Peter Moylan (right shoulder surgery in October 2011) was long-tossing as of mid-May. He might throw his first bullpen session in late May.
–RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery in March 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to miss the entire season.
–LHP Robert Fish (left elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.
RHP Tommy Hanson
LHP Mike Minor
RHP Brandon Beachy
RHP Randall Delgado
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Craig Kimbrel (closer)
LHP Jonny Venters
LHP Eric O’Flaherty
RHP Kris Medlen
RHP Cristhian Martinez
RHP Chad Durbin
RHP Livan Hernandez
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
SS Tyler Pastornicky
3B Martin Prado
INF Juan Francisco
INF Jack Wilson
LF Matt Diaz
CF Michael Bourn
RF Jason Heyward
OF/INF Eric Hinske
Murray State’s Canaan, Eastern Kentucky’s Kosgei Named OVC Athletes of the Year
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – For the second-straight year athletes from the sports of men’s basketball and cross country/track and field have been selected as the Ohio Valley Conference Athletes of the Year for 2011-12 in voting by the league’s athletics directors and sports information directors.
Murray State University junior guard Isaiah Canaan, the OVC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, was selected as the OVC Male Athlete of the Year, while , the 2011 OVC Cross Country Athlete of the Year and 2012 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and an All-American in both cross country and indoor track, was named OVC Female Athlete of the Year. The two winners will receive their awards at the League’s annual Honors Brunch on June 1 in Nashville.
Austin Peay's Vanja Tomic was a nominee for OVC Female Athlete of the Year.
Other female nominees for the award included Austin Peay senior tennis player Vanja Tomic, Eastern Illinois sophomore pole vaulter Jade Riebold, Jacksonville State senior libero Lauren Harkins, Morehead State junior golfer Marisa Kamelgarn, Murray State junior sprinter Alexis Love, Southeast Missouri State senior midfielder Lauren Bozesky, Tennessee State senior middle blocker Shaquita Williams, Tennessee Tech senior guard Tacarra Hayes and UT Martin senior shortstop Jenny Bain.
Other male nominees for the award included Austin Peay junior tennis player Sean Bailey, Eastern Illinois senior sprinter Zye Boey, Eastern Kentucky senior shortstop Richie Rodriguez, Jacksonville State senior pitcher Todd Hornsby, Morehead State senior third baseman Andrew Deeds, Southeast Missouri State senior quarterback Matt Scheible, Tennessee State senior triple jumper Avian Hughes, Tennessee Tech senior wide receiver Tim Benford and UT Martin junior pitcher Dan Tobik.
Canaan was the leader of the Murray State men’s basketball team that completed a 31-2 season (tying the most wins in OVC history), won both the OVC regular season and tournament championships, advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, was ranked as high as No. 7 nationally (the highest-ranking in school history and first OVC team to be ranked in the Top 10 since the 1970-71 season), was the last undefeated team in Division I at 23-0 and the only team to be undefeated in road games (13-0). Canaan averaged 19.0 points/game which ranked him 24th nationally, while also ranking among the national leaders in 3-point percentage (6th, 45.6%) and 3-pointers made/game (13th, 2.97). He scored a season-high 36 points against Southern Miss in the championship game of the Great Alaskan Shootout (the output was the ninth-most in single-game Great Alaskan Shootout history), leading the Racers to the title at the 34th annual event. Canaan was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 25.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals/game in the three Murray State victories. He also led the Racers to victories over nationally-ranked Memphis and Saint Mary’s during the year. Following the season he was named an All-American by seven different outlets including the Wooden Team (one of 10 total players), The Sporting News (first-team), CBSSports.com (first-team), Associated Press (second-team), USBWA (second-team), NABC (third-team) and Lute Olson Team. He was also one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.
Canaan is the sixth different Murray State student-athlete to be named OVC Male Athlete of the Year and first since De’Teri Mayes earned the honor in 1997-98. All the winners (who have won eight combined awards) have been men’s basketball players. Overall it marks the fourth time in the last five years that the OVC Male Athlete of the Year has been a men’s basketball player.
Kosgei capped her career at Eastern Kentucky by earning All-American honors in both cross country and indoor track and field during the 2011-12 season. She began the year by winning the OVC Cross Country Championship in a 5K time of 17:43.69 (the fastest winning time since 2007) and being voted the OVC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year. At the NCAA Southeast Regional competition she was second out of 240 competitors in becoming the first-ever Eastern Kentucky female (and just sixth OVC female runner) to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championship. At the national meet she finished 37th out of 254 runners, marking the second-best finish in OVC history and earning All-American honors. During the indoor track and field season Kosgei was named OVC Female Track Athlete of the Week five times and set EKU records in both the 3,000 (9:21.40) and 5,000 meters (16:03.66), the later breaking a 34-year old school record. Prior to the OVC Indoor Championship she was named OVC Female Indoor Track Athlete of the Year award for the second-straight season and after winning the 800 (in the second-fastest time in school history), the mile and the 3,000 meters was named the OVC Track Athlete of the Championship. At the NCAA Indoor Championship was earned second-team All-American honors after finishing 11th in the 5,000 meters. Kosgei was also the only runner (male or female) in the OVC to be named to the prestigious USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country team.
Kosgei is the fifth different Eastern Kentucky student-athlete to be named OVC Female Athlete of the Year and second in a row, as Kat Pagano was named the award winner last year. Each of the five EKU winners (who have won the award six total times) have been part of the cross country and track and field programs.
The OVC first awarded a Male Athlete of the Year award in 1977 and gave out the first Female Athlete of the Year in 1981.
Because of their unaesthetic approach to the game and their sharp-tongued, no-nonsense coach, the Spurs have long been labeled as a “boring” team by many casual fans.
After nearly running the Thunder out of the gym in a 120-111 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs didn’t quite shed their boring label Tuesday night.
Instead, they simply peeled it off and slapped it on a suitcase bound for Oklahoma City.
Also on the suitcase? A note attached reading, “Next stop: NBA Finals.”
At some point during Tuesday’s win which gave the Spurs a commanding 2-0 series lead, a large percentage of the country seemed to collectively embrace that this Spurs team is special.
Tweets, calls and text messages began to flow as the boys from San Antone began to flex their muscles against the Thunder – the chic pick (including this genius right here) – to challenge the (presumably) Heat in next month’s NBA Finals.
Up 55-44 at the break, the Spurs lead began to balloon throughout the third quarter as Tony Parker and Tim Duncan began to look more and more like the dynamic duo that helped guide the franchise to three titles within the last decade.
(Parker was especially brilliant, finishing with 34 points on 16-of-21 shooting while handing out eight assists.)
In the fourth, however, the upstart Thunder began to slowly chip away at the Spurs lead, trimming the deficit to 103-96 with 4:16 to play.
That’s when another Spurs championship stalwart – Manu Ginobli – took over, scoring eight back-breaking points and lifting Popovich’s squad to within six wins of another NBA title.
And while the Thunder could surprise us and suddenly make this a series, don’t count on it.
Through two games, the Spurs (led by Parker’s seemingly unstoppable pick-and-rolls) have shredded the Thunder defensively to the tune of 110.5 points per game.
The Thunder entered this series as the ninth-best defensive team in the playoffs, allowing just 92.8 points per contest.
Still not convinced the NBA Finals won’t be starting in San Antonio on June 12?
Think about this: With Tuesday’s win the Spurs have now won 20 consecutive games (10 of which have come in these playoffs).
With the series heading back to OKC, the Thunder have to beat the Spurs four times in the next five games to stave off elimination in the conference finals for a second consecutive season.
So while Duncan, Parker, Ginobli and the rest of the Spurs prepare to head to OKC for Game 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday, I wouldn’t anticipate a return trip.
That’d suit the boring old Spurs just fine.