Freeman addresses future in exclusive Q&A
Freddie Freeman has established himself among the game’s elite and become one of the most beloved players in Braves history. The reigning National League MVP recently took time to talk about his team’s bid to win a World Series, his possible contract extension and how hard it has been for him to spend the past month away from his wife, Chelsea, and their two new sons, Brandon and Maximus.
MLB.com: How does this Spring Training differ from the many previous ones you have experienced?
Freeman: I’ve never come to Spring Training coming off a season when we were just one win from the World Series. Bringing in guys like Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly has really helped put the confidence in the team. Every year, I’ve been saying the energy in Spring Training is different. It’s so true this year, because I think everyone is realizing how good this team is.
When (general manager and president of baseball operations) Alex (Anthopoulos) goes out and gets the two starters and gets Marcell (Ozuna) back, there’s just an added excitement in camp. It’s just been so fun to be a part of it. Year after year, the team is getting better and better. We were so close last year. This year, I think everyone can taste it.
MLB.com: We know you had a very eventful winter as you introduced two more sons to your family. How hard has it been to go through camp with your wife and boys back in California?
Freeman: This is definitely the hardest camp I’ve ever experienced. When I wake up every day, I don’t have three of the other four members of my family. I only have (my 4-year-old) Charlie here. So, it’s hard. I’m struggling every day. I’m more invested in my phone right now with FaceTime and all sorts of stuff.
Four days ago, I got up to go to the ballpark and Charlie started crying uncontrollably because I was leaving for the field. So, when my one son that I have here is crying because I have to leave the house, then that makes it even harder knowing I’m also not seeing my other two sons. Brandon has grown two diaper sizes since I’ve been in Spring Training and I’m watching this happen through a phone.
I wish I was a robot and it didn’t affect me and I could put all my mind and concentration on baseball and getting ready for a season. But I’m not. I have to talk it out because it affects me. Everyone knows I just want to be with my family. I’m already on my 26th day of not seeing my wife and my two other sons. It’s extremely hard for me.
It’s like 12:51 (p.m. ET) and I’ve got a game in 14 minutes and I’m sitting on FaceTime because my family is in California. The next thing you know, it’s 12:56 and I’m sprinting to the dugout. It’s been a weird Spring Training.
MLB.com How has Chelsea handled these past few weeks?
Freeman: I recently had a conversation with Chelsea saying, ‘I think I need to come home for two days just to see you and the boys.’ She has been able to keep me calm. Our relationship, I didn’t know it could get stronger. But it has gotten even stronger than it already was. I don’t know what it is. We’re just connecting on so many levels and it’s so awesome. But I still have the emptiness of missing my kids.
The last day of our first road trip when we’re flying home from (Washington) D.C. will be the greatest day of my life. I can’t wait to get home and see my two boys. This has been an extremely hard Spring Training to focus because every day my mind is just elsewhere because I have this sadness of missing my family.
I know there are so many people who are gone way longer than me in the military and stuff like that. I get it. But I’m not built to be able to do that. I need my family.
MLB.com: With that being said, how nice has it been to spend Spring Training with your dad, grandfather and Charlie?
Freeman: I have four generations of Freemans with me right now at Spring Training. That is pretty special when you take a step back and look at it. I look up in the stands and see my dad, my grandpa, Charlie, my cousin and my brother. These are memories Charlie will have forever. He calls our place, “The Boys’ Place, No Girls Allowed.” We play a lot of baseball and we got him his first set of golf clubs last week. It’s been fun. I wish there were two other boys here. But Charlie is having the time of his life. He’s the king of the castle again.
MLB.com: There was some thought you might get a contract extension before you enter this final season of your contract. Can you tell us if there has been any progress on this front?
Freeman: I just saw Lance McCullers got his extension and I’ve been seeing the reports about Juan Soto, Trea Turner and other guys in the NL East. I’m happy for them. They deserve it. They are such amazing ballplayers. But in my case, we haven’t been approached yet, my agents or I. We’ve got a week left before the season. My main focus is getting ready for the season next and being ready for April 1 in Philadelphia and getting to the World Series. That’s my main focus. But in terms of extension talks, we haven’t been approached yet.
MLB.com: In terms of results, this spring has been different for you. You are 4-for-26 with no extra-base hits and eight strikeouts. How do you think you are swinging the bat right now?
Freeman: If you look at my batting line, it’s pretty awful. Let’s just call a spade a spade. I have felt pretty awful the first couple weeks of Spring Training. But I started to feel a little better on Tuesday, when I flew out to center field. It was like my first real flyout where I stayed through the ball. I didn’t have Spring Training last year and it took me a couple weeks to get going. It’s just the same thing this year. It’s just taking me a little longer than usual.
My mind was a little scatterbrained for a couple weeks. But after I talked to Chelsea the other night, something just seemed to click. I got to the park the next day, walked in the cage and after a few swings, our hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said, ‘Congrats on your MVP and your two new sons. I’d have told you sooner, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen Freddie Freeman.’
MLB.com: What was it like having Chipper Jones in camp?
Freeman: When you have a Hall of Famer on your coaching staff, that’s just a wealth of knowledge many organizations aren’t fortunate to have. Chipper is willing to give his knowledge back to the game and his organization. It was so great. He was in a cage every second and wanting to help. It’s kind of a calming presence when you walk in a batting cage and just see Chipper sitting there.
MLB.com: You enter every year with the desire to win. But does finishing a win shy of last year’s World Series make you even hungrier this year?
Freeman: The goal every year is to get to the World Series and win it. When we were up 3-1 (in the NLCS) last year, you could just taste it. Then it was just taken from us. The Dodgers just played such great baseball those last three games. We couldn’t hold on. Now, when we have pretty much the same team coming back, plus the additions of Charlie (Morton) and Drew (Smyly), we’re feeling real confident in ourselves. We know the NL East is a juggernaut. But this team has a real good chance to have sustained success. Getting one win away, you can already tell in camp that we can taste that World Series.