SEATTLE -- The exchange has been made and the ball is in its rightful hands.
Mike Freeman was escorted down the Mariners' clubhouse hallway and into the underbelly of Safeco Field, then introduced to the boy from the right-field seats who caught his towering second-inning home run.
When he hit it -- the first of his career, hence the bat-for-ball tradeoff -- Freeman, the 29-year-old utility man in his third organization, envisioned it playing a part in the Mariners' first series win of the season. Instead, he sat alone in a subdued clubhouse after the Mariners allowed 10 unanswered runs and dropped the series finale to the Astros, 10-5.
"It's something you dream about as a kid, so in that regard it's special," Freeman said. "But at the same time, it's tough. You want to get here and do anything you can to help the team win, and unfortunately we didn't win tonight. That's kind of taken precedence amongst everything.
"It won't ever take away from the fact that I've got a big league homer now -- something that a lot of people aren't able to do. I recognize that. I don't hit a lot of homers in the Minor Leagues or anywhere, so it's special for me."
Freeman was just beaten out by Taylor Motter for the final spot on the Mariners' 25-man roster out of Spring Training. But both were in the starting lineup Wednesday, with Jean Segura on the 10-day disabled list and Danny Valencia taking a seat.
Mariners manager Scott Servais slotted Freeman in for Valencia at first base, his first MLB appearance there and one of just a handful of times ever at the position.
"Michael Freeman is a pro," Servais said. "He's got a very slow heartbeat and handled things great tonight. Plus his first home run in the big leagues -- good for him. He made some nice plays at first, had some nice at-bats. Good to see that out of him."
Both Freeman and Motter have played surprisingly integral roles for the Mariners' offense since Segura hit the shelf. Motter entered at shortstop in the third inning Monday and scored a run. In his two full games since, he has collected the most total bases in the Majors over that time period.
Motter contributed three doubles in Tuesday's 7-5 loss. On Wednesday, he slugged what, at the time, appeared to be the deciding shot -- a two-run home run that put the Mariners ahead, 5-0. But Seattle got only two more hits after Motter's third-inning blast. One of which, you guessed it, was another double off his bat.
"He's been driving the ball against some pretty good pitching and played well at shortstop, starting to settle in and be comfortable," Servais said. "He's one of the bright spots, swinging the bat as good as anyone we have right now."