Free hug! Panda greets Freeman after HR

June 5th, 2021

ATLANTA -- has continued to have fun with his Braves teammates and play the part of the lovable “Panda.”

Sandoval extended his recently developed ritual when he donned a panda head, stood at the end of the Braves’ dugout and waited to hug Freddie Freeman after the reigning National League MVP Award winner homered in the first inning of Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers at Truist Park.

Like Freeman, Sandoval has become known as a bit of a hugger during his long playing career. When he wasn’t hitting pinch-hit homers for the Braves during the early weeks of this season, he was hanging out at the end of the dugout to hug teammates after they had hit a long ball.

During a recent homestand, a panda head was spotted at the end of the dugout. That head has since been used by Sandoval to create this new, fun-loving post-homer celebration.

Dansby Swanson has had some fun with this ritual. After hitting his past couple home runs, the shortstop has returned to the dugout and jumped into the open arms of the Panda.