LOS ANGELES – We took away one thing, more than anything else Freddy Freeman By surprise during his first Dodger Stadium series: the number of times his new fans have chanted his name, after more than a decade of feud when he played for the visiting Atlanta Braves team.
“They cheer every time I get on the racket, as if I have to do something special every time,” Freeman said with a laugh.
Those cheers came again at the bottom of the first half on Monday afternoon, when Freeman walked into the batting box to take on his former team to begin what promised to be an emotional streak. This time, Freeman lived up to their expectations, lining up the second pitch he saw in the gap in left midfield and over the fence on his first home run as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a story moment for a man who, until recently, never thought he’d play any Another team is the brave.
Welcome to Los Angeles where the players play. pic.twitter.com/pps1QUGXFZ
– Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) April 19, 2022
Later, after the Dodgers completed a 7-4 victory, Freeman did his best to drop the importance of home runs. “There was no poetic justice,” he said. Happiness is only in being reunited with an organization he still openly adores.
“I know there are stories, and everyone wants to run and say this and that, but the only story today is that I was happy to see my friends again,” Freeman said.
About half an hour ago, Freeman was on the field with his wife and three children to receive the Silver Slugger award he won last season. Also at his side were Braves manager Brian Snitker and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, both of whom were instrumental in developing Freeman as one of the best hitters in the sport.
Moments later, a greeting video was played Kenley Janssenthe former Dodgers’ closest team celebrated, which was greeted by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, third baseman Justin Turner and Chief of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman with framed memorabilia from his first career in the summer of 2010.
Monday’s series opener between the Dodgers and Braves offered a rare, emotionally charged pairing of two franchise icons who chanced – and in both cases, shockingly – signed free agent contracts to join each other’s former squad last month.
Jansen, the converted catch that saved 350 regular season games in decades with the Dodgers, lost his way to the visiting club in the early afternoon and admitted his “adrenaline is definitely ready” for his return to Los Angeles Freeman, said the 12-time All-Star And the MVP who won the World Championships in the last 12 years with the Braves, his emotions were “everywhere”.
“Obviously there’s a lot of emotion going on right now, but there’s a lot of good feeling,” Freeman told a group of Dodgers media members less than four hours before kick-off.
The first person Freeman saw as he got off the elevator was Braves athletic coach George Polis, who proceeded to take his picture.
“Oh, my God, I’m not ready,” Freeman said to him.
Later, Freeman visited the Braves Club and passed hugs around. Met privately in Snicker’s office. Then he saw the Braves’ general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, who had replaced Freeman’s replacement, Matt Olson, while Freeman remained a free agent. Freeman welcomed Anthopoulos “the world champion”. The two became emotional when they spoke at the base of the first bunker, so Freeman decided to move the rest of the conversation indoors so they wouldn’t be caught by the cameras.
Anthopoulos nearly collapsed when he addressed reporters the day after the takeover of Olson from Oakland Athletics. Freeman – visibly distressed and surprised – angrily dismissed Anthopoulos during his introductory press conference with the Dodgers family. But the two spoke via FaceTime for three hours about a week later.
“This was the closure I needed,” Freeman said. “Now, it’s just happiness to see him and his friendship, because we’ve spent so much time together over the last four years trying to win the world championship, and to be able to make it happen – it was good to see him.”
Janssen, who won his ring with the Dodgers during the pandemic’s 2020 season cut short, signed a one-year, $16 million contract with the Braves on March 18, two days after Freeman agreed the terms of a six-year, $162 million deal. Dodgers. The Freeman deal complicated matters for Jansen. The Dodgers put it too close to the third level of the luxury tax threshold, prompting the need to shed salary in order to fit Jansen’s contract. The Braves, the team whose Jansen grew up in Curacao, came up with an offer and needed a quick answer. Janssen took it.
He was shocked by the feelings of joining another team shortly thereafter, during phone conversations with Turner and Clayton Kershaw.
“Growing up in baseball, playing on a team is like leaving your parents to go to college or whatever you want to call it,” Jansen said. “It was exciting to see what the future holds, to be on a new team, and it was also very moving.”
Freeman guessed he had already distributed 25 hugs and shed tears four times when he addressed the media at about 3:30 p.m. local time. This was the first time he had seen them all since they had participated in a military parade nearly six months ago. The Braves’ director of video operations, Rob Smith, was wearing a World Series ring, and Freeman comically told him to take it off. Freeman won’t get his title until late June, when the Dodgers play the Braves on the road and head back to Trust Park for what promises to be another emotional streak.
“It was a lot,” Freeman said. “Every day, feelings come in and out. I didn’t know what to expect today and how emotions would play out, but when I saw everyone, it was just pure happiness. It really was. Just seeing all the guys and staff. Just hugging and saying, ‘I miss you.'”