LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman playfully says he wants to perform well for Canada in the World Baseball Classic to avoid being booed when he and his Braves teammates play in Canada this year. But it's long been known his primary focus will be placed on honoring the
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman playfully says he wants to perform well for Canada in the World Baseball Classic to avoid being booed when he and his Braves teammates play in Canada this year. But it's long been known his primary focus will be placed on honoring the memory of his late mother's native country.
"I'm probably going to feel nerves that I haven't felt playing a baseball game for a long time," Freeman said. "I want to play so well for Canada and to honor my mother. It's going to be very fun and exciting. Hopefully we can play more than three games, but if it only lasts three games, it will probably be the best three games I experience until I get back to the playoffs."
Freeman has been amped up for the event since the start of Spring Training, when he entertained his Braves teammates by donning a variety of Canadian-themed hats. Now he can truly place his focus on the event, which will begin for Canada with Thursday night's game against the Dominican Republic at Miami's Marlins Park.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Playing his final game for the Braves before joining the Canadian team, Freeman recorded a double during Saturday afternoon's 8-6 loss to the Marlins at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. The 27-year-old first baseman won't rejoin his Atlanta teammates before March 13, but regardless of how long the experience lasts, Freeman will essentially maintain his normal preparations and then feel a little more adrenaline than he would during a regular Spring Training game.
The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Freeman and Braves right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran will both feel a little extra excitement when they oppose each other next Saturday, when Canada plays Colombia.
"You always see clubs saying we support their decision [to compete in the Classic] and it's always about the pitchers and you know they're thinking, 'But we wish they wouldn't,'" Freeman said. "With position players, we're getting at-bats. We're either going to get them here or get them there. The only thing different is we'll take it a little more seriously. I've taken [this year's Grapefruit League at-bats) more seriously just to get ready."
Both of Freeman's parents were born in Canada. His father will be in attendance for the first-round games that will be played in Miami. Fred Freeman became a do-it-all dad when his wife, Rosemary, passed away after battling melanoma, when Freddie was just 10 years old.
Freeman will make the 90-minute commute from the Orlando, Fla., area to Dunedin for workouts on Monday and Tuesday. After the Canadians play the Yankees in Tampa on Wednesday, he'll return to the Orlando area to pick up his wife and toddler son before making a three-plus-hour drive to Miami.
"I can say this and that about traveling, but this is all about honoring my mom, and I'll do anything to do that," Freeman said. "Every year, it's about honoring my mom in some kind of way. To be able to do this, it's going to be an emotional day. Having my dad in the stands is probably the cherry on top. I'm sure he never thought one of his sons would be wearing the Canadian uniform."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.