Dry eyes, renewed focus — Freddie Freeman is finally a Dodger

He wasn’t over the moon. He wasn’t unstable. He didn’t cry.

A day after making a last-minute addition to the National League All-Star team, the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman had a 51-minute conversation with the media Monday that was notable for what didn’t happen.

He didn’t yell at anyone. He didn’t fire an agent. He did not commit to any other team.

After four crazy months, the guy actually seemed pretty relaxed.

“I’m really happy here,” he said, sounding believable for the first time.

Gone were the tears that irritated some of his teammates as he cried and cried over leaving Atlanta. Gone was the anger at those who reasonably wondered if those tears were real or he was just roaring to avoid being booed.

Gone was the feeling that he viewed the Dodgers as “second fiddle,” as Clayton Kershaw put it. Gone was the notion that he regretted his apparent $162 million heist and just wanted to return to a Waffle House.

Freeman appeared to have settled down. He seemed content. Whatever happened to his sudden and strange departure from the Braves, he appeared to be someone who had finally found a Dodgers uniform that fit him.

The only time his voice even lowered was when he was talking about how much he appreciated the Dodgers. A month ago that would have sounded wrong. But as the beneficiary of continued support from the ongoing storms, his gratitude felt real.

“I’m so happy to be here because, man, these guys have helped me so much,” he said of his Dodgers teammates. “It’s emotional because I’ve been through a lot … and these guys in this clubhouse, man, they surrounded me, the fan base surrounded me, it was just a special start to a wonderful Dodger career I think. ”

emphasis on special. emphasis on beginning.

I’m just wondering, but is it possible that he wasn’t a disingenuous guy agonizing over the truth, but just a desperate guy struggling with regret? If so, is it possible that he finally won that fight?

“I got my degree in Atlanta,” he said in late June of the Dodgers series, in which he eventually received the championship ring from an organization where he spent his entire 12-year major league career. “It was like a two-ton boulder off your shoulders. I messaged the guys, spoke to all of them, thanked them for standing by me and helping me get through the lockdown. Once I got that degree, things developed.”

He also thanked Dodgers fans for sticking by his side, chanting his first name from the moment he arrived at Camelback Ranch in the spring, and continuing to greet him with roars that certainly made his appearance at Dodger Stadium Tuesday night will accompany. The loudest cheers will be for Kershaw, but “Fred-die, Fred-die” will be a close second.

“I think the fans knew I needed the love to get through,” he said. “Anybody who’s been in a job for a long time and going into a new job is tough, and what the Dodgers and the Dodgers’ fan base have done for me and my family… that’s why I was able to split up. … Once I’m on the field, it’s been great. … [The] Boys in the clubhouse, they’re a special group. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

He’s scheduled, all right. And yes, he plays like he’s damn happy.

He comes into the All-Star Game as the top player on the best team in the NL and one of the hottest hitters in recent history.

He entered the All-Star break with 16 hits in his last 24 at-bats — that’s not a misprint — while leading the league in hits and in the top 10 in batting average and base-plus-slugging -percentage landed.

He should have been a true All-Star pick, but he only got on the team when Starling Marte resigned from the New York Mets with a nasty groin injury. It was such a last-minute decision that Freeman was playing with his children on the beach outside his home on the Orange County coast late Sunday afternoon and almost missed the call.

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman looks at the crowd during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman looks at the crowd July 13 during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

(Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

He only went in and looked because he needed to use the bathroom. There he noticed that Dodgers baseball boss Andrew Friedman had called him.

“I was in a sombrero, playing with my kids, jumping on rocks in the ocean, and changing dirty diapers,” he said. “It was a whirlwind. It fits perfectly for 2022.”

Let’s see…quick spring signing after lockout…tears when the Braves visit Dodger Stadium…tears when the Dodgers visit the Braves…Freeman suddenly fires longtime agency year-old Matt Olson to 32-year-old Freeman?

The only thing beyond doubt was that the guy could hit and set up the bases and direct intelligently. The one thing everyone in the room seemed to agree on was that this guy could make all the difference.

“It’s been a hell of a ride for the first four months,” he admitted, and boy is he handling the turbulence just fine. “It’s not that difficult for me. It’s just outside noise. I don’t really have social media so I don’t see what’s going on. I know there’s a lot of things going on, but I feel good, I feel great where I am. … I’m having a great time. … Things have sort of fallen into place over the past few weeks and it shows on the pitch.”

It also shows, in small glimpses, a personality that even the most die-hard Dodgers fans might find charming. Who knows, they might end up liking him for more than just his bat.

A reporter absurdly asked him Monday to name his favorite Disney movie song, but instead of scoffing at the question, he quickly had an answer.

“We just saw ‘Encanto,’ so…'[We Don’t Talk About] Bruno,” he said. “Yes, ‘Bruno’. ”

Another questioning spirit asked what he would drink at his last meal on earth. He was quick to refer to his mother, Rosemary, who died when he was 10 years old.

“I drink Dr. Pepper, my mom’s favorite drink,” he said. “When I go to her, I choose a Dr. Pepper.”

Then there’s Charlie, his 5-year-old son, who was playing video games at the clubhouse on Monday and was thrilled that his father would now be on the all-star team in a future video game version of MLB: The Show.

“When I told my son I was going to be an All Star, it was so special to me,” he said. “I wish I could just recreate that face. That’s a face I’ll never forget.”

Cute stuff, but, oh yeah, because of all those tears…

“I can’t control that, I’m a Freeman,” he said with a shrug. “We like to cry”

For now, though, eyes seem dry, vision clear, focus unmistakable, truth as clear as a right swipe.

Freddie Freeman is finally a Dodger.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-07-18/freddie-freeman-focus-dodgers-braves-mlb Dry eyes, renewed focus — Freddie Freeman is finally a Dodger

Emma Bowman

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