Braves: Marcell Ozuna blames “inflammation” for last year’s struggles

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Marcell Ozuna is among the most intriguing storyline heading into training camp. On the one hand, the Braves situation in left field and at DH is bleak. They could really use a bounce back campaign from Ozuna in 2023. But on the flip side, Ozuna is coming off a dreadful 2022 season and is a PR nightmare, given his multiple arrests over the last couple of years. If he can’t show signs of positive regression, the Braves must seriously consider cutting ties, even if it means eating the remaining $33 million on his contract.

Like most fans, I’m fairly shocked Ozuna has even made it this far. Usually, accruing -1.5 WAR and multiple arrests over two seasons is enough to get anyone released, but for some reason, the Braves believe they can still squeeze something out of him over the remainder of his contract.

Perhaps that reason is an undisclosed injury that Ozuna brought up as he arrived to Spring Training. He told Justin Felder of Fox 5 Atlanta that he was dealing with ‘inflammation’ last season, which affected him defensively in the outfield, where he hopes to be much better this year.

When it comes to Marcell Ozuna improving, particularly defensively, I’ll believe it when I see it. I think the days of him being used in the outfield are long gone. He’s been abysmal in left field ever since the Braves originally signed him three years ago. There’s nothing that suggests he can even be an average outfielder at this point in his career.

Ozuna’s value stems strictly from his offense. He will most likely be used primarily as a DH for 2023 and beyond, but he can bring a lot to the Braves in that respect if he manages to bounce back. Ozuna is still only 32-years-old, and he flashed last year that he has a lot of power left in the tank, mashing 23 homers in 124 games. Hopefully, as he moves further away from the off-the-field issues that have haunted him over the last couple of years and with a full healthy offseason, he can look like the player the Braves thought they were getting when they inked him to a lucrative four-year contract extension prior to the 2021 season.

Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire


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