Freddie Freeman's (unwanted) day off

September 18th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio's Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Jake Rill, a reporter/producer based in Phoenix, dried off from covering Tuesday’s clubhouse celebration and filled in for Juan Toribio this week.

When Freddie Freeman arrives at a ballpark, he shows up ready to play. The first baseman is one of the best in baseball, so he's typically in the lineup.

Except this past Wednesday.

The Dodgers clinched the National League West on Tuesday night, sparking a champagne-soaked celebration in the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field. Freeman cheered, jeered and sprayed his teammates -- but his mind was already on the next day's game and whether he could talk his way into playing.

"Haven’t been told anything, haven’t had a sip of alcohol just in case,” Freeman said.

After Freeman left the ballpark and returned to the hotel, he sent about six texts to manager Dave Roberts -- campaigning to be in Wednesday’s lineup. Roberts and Freeman had come to an agreement weeks earlier that Freeman would sit the day after Los Angeles’ NL West clincher, whenever that may come. But he thought maybe he could change his manager’s mind.

He did not. Los Angeles' lineup came out Wednesday and Freeman -- along with fellow stalwarts Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Justin Turner -- were on the bench.

“The manager won out,” Roberts said with a smile.

Without a game to prepare for, Freeman strolled around the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon in his gray tracksuit, clearly not used to the concept of a day off. He’s had three seasons in which he never missed a game (2014, ‘18 and ‘20) and he played 159 of 162 with the Braves in ‘21.

"I'm not very good at this," Freeman shared with nearby reporters while sitting at his locker.

To stay occupied, Freeman moved over to a table in the center of the room, pulled out his phone and began playing Roblox online with his son, Charlie -- some quality virtual family time.

The Dodgers left Phoenix that night and flew to San Francisco. On Friday, Freeman was back in the lineup for the opener against the Giants. And if he has it his way, that’s where he’ll be for every game the rest of the year.