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Braves News: Freddie Freeman on Bryce Harper, Dansby Swanson’s health and more

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News and notes from Saturday’s Chop Fest.

T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Atlanta Braves News

Acuna would prefer to stay at leadoff for Braves

Ronald Acuña Jr. told reporters at Chop Fest that his preference is to remain in the leadoff spot but that he is willing to do whatever the coaching staff thinks is best for the team.

“Obviously, I do enjoy batting leadoff, but it’s not my decision,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “It’s up to the coaches and manager to decide whatever is best for the team.”

The Braves are reportedly looking for a corner outfielder that could hit cleanup behind Freddie Freeman.

Braves’ Dansby Swanson discusses surgery, rehab

The AJC’s Kelsey Russo talked with Dansby Swanson about how his wrist is feeling and how long it bothered him before he had offseason surgery to remove a loose body. Swanson said he first felt discomfort in the wrist last season during the team’s trip to Chicago in mid-April that was played in frigid conditions. Swanson has begun hitting off a tee and may see his workload limited at the start of spring training but should be ready to go by Opening Day.

Austin Riley focusing on improvement, adding versatility as MLB opportunity nears

The acquisition of Josh Donaldson sparked questions about the longterm future of third base prospect Austin Riley in Atlanta. However, Riley tells Fox Sports’ Zach Dillard that he has begun fielding balls in the outfield and is focused on improvement and adding versatility. He has made a significant impression on former Braves’ third baseman Terry Pendleton who says Riley will soon be knocking on the door to the majors.

“He’s probably half a season away,” Pendleton said. “I think there’s something offensive things we need to work on, and I’m saying that to a kid that (is about to turn) 22 and hit (19) home runs last year on his way up and probably drove in 80 and hit .280 or whatever. That just shows you how talented he is and there’s some offensive things we need to work on and get better. Defensively, he’s solid. He’s smart.”

Freddie Freeman says he never recruited Bryce Harper

Freddie Freeman told reporters at Chop Fest that he had not spoken with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper about joining him in Atlanta with the Braves.

“Did I ever make a play for him to come here? No. I never said – I’ve seen that going around in the media, saying how good friends we are – we are good friends. I’ve never been told to try to lure him here or tell him good things. I just tell him the truth of how I feel about Atlanta and you never know what could happen. Market could come down and you never know. But I’ve never tried to get Bryce here.”

Braves teammates confident Johan Camargo will excel in super-utility role

Fox Sports’ Zach Dillard talked to Johan Camargo about his new role as a super-utility player. Camargo said he is willing to play wherever the team needs him and his teammates are confident that he will excel no matter what position he is playing.

Smoltz hangs on for celebrity tournament win

John Smoltz held on to win the celebrity division of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Sunday. Smoltz grabbed the lead after the third round and held on for a three-point win (the tournament uses a modified stableford scoring system) over former pitcher Mark Mulder.

MLB News

Dodgers, White Sox Discussing Joc Pederson

The Chicago White Sox are one of several teams that have reportedly been having discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers about outfielder Joc Pederson.

Cubs Have Considered Trading Ben Zobrist

The Chicago Cubs are reportedly weighing the idea of trading super utility man Ben Zobrist in an effort to clear some salary for bullpen upgrades. Reports suggest that the Cubs are facing a budget crunch and don’t have the necessary funds available to add a reliever.

How social media is negatively impacting Hall of Fame voting

ESPN’s Buster Olney on how social media is having a negative influence on Hall of Fame voting. The same rational can probably be applied to a number of other subjects as well.