Freddie Freeman’s Dodgers debut homestand includes an emotional Braves reunion as well as a fateful home run

LOS ANGELES — Eddie Perez arrived at Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon, just a few hours before either the batting practice or the game. Los Angeles DodgersOr the Atlanta Bravesthey were due to begin batting training. His first encounter with a person was Freddie FreemanHe was wrapped in a tight, loving hug from his mother, who never let go.

Perez stated, “Let's go,” “because I'm starting to cry.”

Perez, a longtime Braves catcher and major league coach, doesn't get emotional. It almost got Perez to cry when he saw Freeman in the Dodgers uniform.

Perez was present in Citizens Bank Park's bullpen in Philadelphia, twelve years ago when Freeman scored his first home run of his career off Roy Halladay. Perez struggled to locate the ball but couldn't. Perez was certain that Freeman would become a very special player. He remained beside him while Freeman accumulated five All-Star appearances as well as three Silver Slugger Awards.

There he was, as usual, but this time he was different.

Perez stated, “I told Perez, ‘That is not the right colour for you.'” “But I don’t wish to make him feel bad. I want him to have fun being here.”

Perez sent Freeman a congratulatory message on the night that Freeman signed a $62 million, six-year contract with the Dodgers. Perez immediately received a return phone call. Freeman stated on March 16 that he didn't know what had happened. Two days earlier, Freeman had reportedly declined an ultimatum from Excel Sports Management representatives. Details of the ultimatum were not available. chronicled by ESPN's Buster OlneyThe Braves had used a combination of prospects to acquire All Star first baseman Matt OlsonFrom the Oakland Athletics. Freeman was shocked by the news and was left scrambling for a new team, even though he had always wanted to play for the Braves.

Perez encouraged Freeman, once his destination had been determined, to embrace the change and never look back. Perez discussed the benefits to Freeman's father (who still lives in Orange County) of being able watch him play regularly. Perez told him that the Dodgers were a team in perpetual championship contention and was an ideal plan B. He then left him with the following message.

Be you and L.A. fans will love your personality just as they loved Atlanta.

Freeman's first homestand as Dodger was a success. At times, it seemed like those fans were lifting him.

Loud, boisterous “Fre-ddie!” Freeman seemed to be following them around like a soundtrack. They were there when Freeman was standing alone at second base in the eighth inning of the home opener. They were there when he scored his first Dodgers run on Monday against his former team. They were there as he reached home plate after his line-drive homer. Charlie MortonWednesday afternoon. They were with him as he walked to the batter's bowl for the majority of his 31 plate appearances in these seven days.

Freeman stated, “We are all human.” “We all feel emotions and all that. Every night, 50,000 people make me feel good about myself and that they care about my well-being.

Freeman realized he would not be a Brave in just three days. He decided on a team and was immediately introduced at the Dodgers' spring-training facility. Three weeks later, Opening Day was here. The home opener took place seven days later. Four days later, the only major league club he had ever seen came to town. The emotions ran so fast that it was overwhelming. The chants were everything.

Dodgers third baseman: “It's certainly not common.” Justin Turner said. “In all nine years of my time here, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any player chant his name every at bat.”

Lifelong Dodgers ace Clayton KershawThe fans believed Freeman was in need of their support and they felt that this might have amplified the support.

Kershaw stated, “Which, if true, is very perceptive to the fans.” It was cool to watch. “I know Freddie appreciates it.”

Monday was the first occasion Freeman had seen any Braves' players or coaches since Nov. 5, when they took part in a parade through Atlanta and Cobb County. Freeman made his way into the visiting clubhouse, where he exchanged hugs with the staff and reminisced about that day. Then he met Alex Anthopoulos the Braves general manager and had an emotional conversation. As the Braves were going through pregame stretching, he made sure to shake hands and tell Olson how warm he had felt.

Charlie, Freeman's oldest son, ran toward Braves shortstop as he stepped on the field with his family for his Silver Slugger Award. Dansby SwansonFor a hug. He glanced at Braves catcher, as he settled down in the batter's box for a half an hour. Travis d'ArnaudHe smiled and said, “This is strange.” Two pitches later, he lined the first Dodgers homer to left-center.

It was a fastball up-and-away, but d’Arnaud did not think that the pitch type or location would have been important.

“It wasn't fate,” he declared.

Braves relief A.J. MinterFreeman won an eight-pitch match with the pair later in Monday's game. This eventually led to him flying out. Freeman returned to the dugout and they shared a smile. Minter stated, “I wish Freddie could have been a lifelong Brave.” “But we couldn’t get it done and he had the decision to make for himself and his family.”

Freeman, Chelsea, his wife and their three children settled in Studio City. This is an L.A. area just outside Hollywood. Freeman is still looking for the best route to the ballpark. Charlie Freeman is now on the same Little League team with Charley Kershaw, Kershaw's son. The two took part in an Easter Egg hunt at Dodger Stadium's left-field after Sunday's game.

Freeman hopes that one day his new life will feel the same as his previous.

Freeman spoke of his Braves former teammates, saying that he just wanted to hug and see them. “When you go through 162-game seasons, playoffs — and many of those guys I have been with for multiple year. That bond will last a lifetime, whether it's losing multiple times in the first round, losing to the Dodgers in 2020, or winning the championship. Although we'll all be teammates for many years, we'll be friends much longer than our time together. We get to have our reunions as we get older. I hope to have some reunions with the Dodgers as well.”

This report was contributed by Marly Rivera, ESPN.


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