Instagram Influencing Freese's Surge

Pirates infielder caps 5 RBI night with walkoff

Josh Rowntree
July 28, 2018 - 12:21 am
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman David Freese (23) has water dumped on him by right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) after hitting a walk-off single to win the game against the New York Mets at PNC Park.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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David Freese’s time in Pittsburgh is likely winding down. Whether that finish comes at the trade deadline or when this season concludes, The 35-year-old infielder has a $6 million club option that is not expected to be picked up in 2019. 

But, Friday at PNC Park, Freese had possibly his shining moment as a Pirate, reaching base five times, hitting a home run and driving in all five of Pittsburgh’s runs, including the ninth inning game-winner as the Pirates topped the Mets, 5-4. 

“It’s what you expect from a guy like him,” Pittsburgh starter Ivan Nova said. “He take his at-bats very professionally. He wants opportunities to go out there and contribute.”

Freese’s July surge has featured three home runs, 12 RBI and a .369 batting average. 

“He did a real solid job for us going through the month of July pinch-hitting for us,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “That picked up and I just think he got into a good place where he just settled. 

“I just know the experience helps. He’s been in some spots before where I think he relies on his experience, trusts his swing and his strengths and the back of the ball card.”

But Freese doesn’t feel that experience has been the most important aspect of his year. 

“You don’t really need experience,” he said. “I think some knowledge is what can help you. If you can hold onto that, you’ve got a chance. With experience, I think you can take that knowledge and use it to your advantage.”

Freese has always hit left-handed pitchers well, at a .298 career clip. But his improvement throughout the year against righties has been noteworthy. 

“I’m honestly just playing,” he said. “Coming into this year I definitely focused on trying to hit righties better. In that sense, hopefully it saves my career a little bit. But then you turn around and you’re not hitting lefties very well. I think there’s reasons for that. But, the last couple days I’m happy with the way my swing has felt.”

For an older player it may, oddly enough, be a tool of a younger generation that fueled Freese's offseason fine-tuning of his swing.

“I just watched a lot of Instagram, to be honest,” Freese said, while laughing. “I watched a ton of swings of a ton of guys. I’m just working.”

The Pirates have needed every bit of Freese’s social media benefits, as injuries are beginning to take a toll. Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson both recently missed multiple games, including Friday’s, and Josh Bell left during the second inning with left side discomfort. But Freese, among others, have stepped up. 

“It’s wild,” he said. “Especially those guys, what they’ve been doing for us lately. We’ve just got to step up. These are the dog days, I guess. It’s tough out there. Bodies are dragging a little bit, but we are in the hunt and that’s what’s cool.”

On the brink of a three-game losing streak, which would have included Thursday’s 12-6 hammering by New York, Freese’s performance could be what the Pirates, just 2.5 games back in he NL Wild Card hunt, emotionally need to lift them through the injuries. 

“Man, If we wouldn’t have won that game I think it would’ve been tough,” he added. “Last night was sloppy, it was kind of a mess. Tonight wasn’t too much better, but to come out here after that streak and losing a couple, yeah, it was nice to get this one."

Hear more from Freese below.