Ozzie Albies was named as a reserve for the National League at the All-Star Game for the third time in his career. He met with the media Monday in advance of the All-Star Game and discussed a variety of topics including what it means to him to be back playing in the mid-summer classic.
“It means a lot to me. Injury is the last thing you want to happen, but in your career, sometimes things happen and you mentally got to stay strong and stay positive,” Albies said. “I told myself when I’m back, I’m going to try to do as much as I can to stay healthy and play this game every day. Because I love this game.”
A broken foot and a fractured finger limited Albies to just 64 games in 2022. He’s healthy again and swinging the bat well, put together a banner first half as part a juggernaut offense for the Braves. He has already slugged 22 home runs and is second in the National League behind teammate Matt Olson with 63 RBI.
As good as this offense was expected to be, Albies admitted that even he didn’t see it being this good when they arrived at Spring Training.
“Not out of spring training, because everybody’s trying to get ready,” Albies said. “More like when we were getting into the start of the season. You can see how everybody is hungry for the game. At Spring Training we work hard to be the best we can be on the field every single day of the season, so that’s what’s happening.”
Like Albies, Ronald Acuña Jr. dealt with a significant injury in 2021 and never was quite right in 2022. However, he has found his form this season and appears to be the runaway favorite for the MVP Award in the National League going into the break.
“He had an injury in ‘21 that kind of set him down a little bit because he loves the game as much as I do,” Albies said of Acuña. “I told him, you just go work hard like you always did. Early in the season, I told him, the way you play, you’re going to be MVP. So that’s the type of caliber of season he put in already.”
Albies added that he isn’t surprised at all by Acuña’s numbers now that he is healthy again.
“It’s nothing that surprised me to be honest with you because I know what he can do. I’ve seen him since in the minors. We played together. We lived together in the minors before he got to the big leagues. I saw that, you know, since that time he put up numbers that anybody else would have like, ‘Whoa.’ But we see him every day, so we know he can do it.”
Acuña entered the break with 21 home runs and a National League best 41 stolen bases. Albies thinks that a 40 homer and 70 steal season is certainly a possibility.
“Yeah, he can do it. He can do it, no doubt. He just keep playing his game the way he does. It’s going to happen. Nothing is impossible.”
During games Albies can often be seen having a playful banter back and forth with third base coach and infield instructor Ron Washington. Wash has become a mentor for Albies and so many of Atlanta’s young players on their preparation for the game, not just physically, but also the mental side.
“He always talk us into, you know, you’ve got to have your mental preparation first before your physical preparation. He always talked about your mindset needs to be there before your physical.”
So to me, Wash is everything to our whole team. Not just the infielders that he works with, but anybody. A pitcher, a hitter. You can always talk to him. He always prepares us to be the best we can be.”