Freddie Freeman just wanted the story to go away.
On Wednesday, however, the saga surrounding his offseason free agency, departure from the Braves, and apparent split from his agents continued to dominate baseball news.
Though the Dodgers first baseman had a home run, two hits and a walk in the team’s 8-4 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, a new report on Freeman’s free agency trial last offseason opened up another chapter in a story that followed him for almost a week.
Hours before the first pitch, Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb said that Casey Close, the Excel Sports Management agent who ran Freeman negotiations for Freeman that ended in his signing with the Dodgers, never told Freeman of what was supposed to be a definitive contract offer the Braves set out to keep the former MVP in Atlanta.
Gottlieb said Freeman found out upon his return to Atlanta this weekend and that it prompted Freeman to resign Excel as his agent this week — something Freeman has not publicly acknowledged, describing his agent status only as “fluent,” amid reports he’s filed paperwork terminating his relationship with Excel.
Freeman declined to address Gottlieb’s account when asked after Wednesday’s batting practice.
A few hours later, Close published a vehement denial of the story through his agency.
“Doug Gottlieb tweeted a completely inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman,” the statement said. “We are immediately examining all legal options to take action against the reckless publication of incorrect information.”
The one thing that was clear by the end of the evening: the off-field drama has little impact on Freeman’s productivity on the record.
In the series finale against the Rockies, Freeman hammered the first pitch he saw down the middle of the field for his ninth home run of the season.
In the fifth inning, he hit again on a Will Smith home run after hitting a leadoff single, marking Freeman’s seventh multi-hit game of his current 13-game hitting streak.
“It’s quite remarkable,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Freeman, who also took the team’s lead in base-plus-slugging percentage on Wednesday with an .888. “He just has a unique way of dividing emotion with performance.”
It helped the Dodgers (46-28) avoid a sweep against the Rockies (33-43).
After hitting just four runs in their first two games, they hit four in the first two innings on Wednesday — after a sacrifice fly from Eddy Alvarez and a two-run double from Trea Turner in the second — en route to their best performance at Coors Field that year.
Julio Urías ran through most of a 51/3 inning with three runs before getting caught in a jam in the sixth that was cleared by Brusdar Graterol.
And while the rain threatened the rest of the game, the Rockies never did it again, and the Dodgers drove to finish their nine-game journey 6-3.
Betts likely back before the break
Roberts said Wednesday he was “very optimistic” that outfielder Mookie Betts would return from a broken rib ahead of next month’s All-Star break, though he noted he may be in a specific hitting role initially.
“Swinging the racquet isn’t as annoying as throwing it,” Roberts said. “Hopefully this continues and he’ll be back with us sooner or later.”
Betts has been out since he was injured in a collision with midfielder Cody Bellinger on June 15.
He swung a racquet again for the first time during his rehab in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and Roberts said Betts felt good afterwards.
Roberts was confident Betts won’t need a rehab trip either.
“I think every day my assessment will change,” said Roberts. “Well right now I would say no. But I just don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
Without Betts, the Dodgers have continued to look for new ways to compensate in the outfield.
On Wednesday, that meant playing Jake Lamb in left field for his first start with the Dodgers after being called up Tuesday. Lamb had one hit, one walk and two runs.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-06-29/dodgers-rockies-game-freddie-freeman-mookie-betts Freddie Freeman stays hot in Dodgers’ win over Rockies