Freeman (hamstring): 'Opening Day is not in doubt'

March 16th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- , who exited Canada's game against Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday afternoon with a slight hamstring issue, did not play in the eliminating 10-3 loss to Mexico on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Instead, the All-Star first baseman returned to Dodgers camp, using it as a rest day to receive treatment and recharge, with the belief that the hamstring issue was just a blip.

“No, Opening Day is not in doubt,” said Freeman. “Took a complete day off, just finished three hours of treatment. If everything goes well, I am shooting for games this weekend at the Cactus League.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed Freeman’s optimism, sharing that there isn’t any concern about the former MVP missing extended time.

“He’s doing well, the strength is good,” said Roberts. “But it’s just mild and he just wanted to be careful. So getting treatment today, being off tomorrow, seeing where it takes him.”

During his at-bat in the top of the third inning on Tuesday, Freeman took a swing at a low fastball from Colombia starter Adrian Almeida and ran gingerly to first base as Gio Urshela easily caught the pop fly at third base.

He stayed in the game at first base for the bottom of that frame, but exited prior to the bottom of the fourth. Freeman was replaced in the lineup by Denzel Clarke, who took over in center field as Jared Young slid to first base to handle that role.

“My second at-bat, fastball outside, I kind of reached for it and for some reason, [there was] a little tightness in my hamstring, my right one, as I was running down to first base,” said Freeman. “I thought it was a cramp, but it obviously didn’t go away. So I did the precautionary thing coming out of the game. You guys know it takes a lot for me to come out of a game, but that was the decision we had to make at that point in time.”

Both of Freeman’s parents were born in Canada, qualifying him to represent the country at the tournament. He went 2-for-10 with three runs scored in his three games.

With Opening Day just 15 days away, ending his tournament early was a tough decision for Freeman.

“That’s a hard thing to do -- I treat every game the same, no matter what game I’m playing,” said Freeman. “But with Opening Day two weeks away, I was a little nervous if I got on base again and had to go first-to-third or score from first. I didn’t want to put myself in that situation.”

Even though he was unable to finish the tournament with Canada (who finished Pool C action with a 2-2 record), Freeman relished the opportunity to play for his country again.

“I apologized to Greg Hamilton, who is one of the coaches,” said Freeman. “I feel like I let them down, he obviously reassured me that I didn’t. But it was a wonderful week. Canada, we put on a good show -- a lot better than 2017. It’s tough leaving those guys because they’re so many guys who were making such great impressions. To not see it all the way through is hard.”