For 12 seasons, Freddie Freeman made his way to the home dugout of Turner Field and later Truist Park.
But on Friday, the 2020 National League MVP will be in the visitors dugout — a member of the Dodgers. Having helped the Braves win the 2021 World Series before inking a six-year, $162 million with Los Angeles this past offseason, Freeman was emotional ahead of his return to Atlanta Friday.
“I was doing pretty good about an hour ago. I still love the Braves organization with all my heart. That will never change,” said a teary-eyed Freeman, before exiting the press conference room to collect himself.
Freeman, 32, played in 1,565 regular season games with the Braves before finally winning baseball’s ultimate prize. He was named to five All-Star teams during his tenure, slashing 295/.384/.509 with 271 home runs.
“For me, that World Series ring is more than a ring,” Freeman said, via CBS Sports. “It’s all the sacrifices, the 14-hour bus rides in the minor leagues, the grind every single year.”
Although Freeman and Atlanta had discussions during the offseason, the two sides ultimately failed to reach a deal. The Braves would acquire Matt Olson from the Athletics to replace Freeman, which prompted Freeman to sign elsewhere — ultimately with the Dodgers.
“I have no regrets and I’m not looking for closure,” Freeman said, via The Athletic. “There’s nothing to close for me here. Why would I close it? It’s such a special time, the 15 years I spent here.”
Freeman owns a .303/.386/.494 batting line through his first 68 games in Dodger blue, with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. Freeman will bat second and man first base for the Dodgers Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET.