MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
Baseball America|November 2020
An intense bout with COVID granted Freddie Freeman perspective on how much he loves playing baseball
GABE BURNS

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Freddie Freeman

STEADY FREDDIE FREEMAN IS THE STRONG, SILENT L LEADER OF THE BRAVES’ DYNAMIC OFFENSE

The biggest home run Freddie Freeman hit this season came July 17, one week before Opening Day.

When the Braves held their first team workouts on July 3—the day camps reopened following the pandemic shutdown—they did so without their all-star first baseman and franchise pillar. Freeman had tested positive for COVID-19, adding further uncertainty to a season that many in the industry, including Braves manager Brian Snitker, were skeptical would finish.

Hours before Snitker informed reporters of Freeman’s status on July 4, Freeman was laying in his bed, drenched in sweat and praying for his life. His fever peaked at 104.5 degrees.

“I said a little prayer that night,” Freeman recalled. “I’ve never been that hot before. My body was really, really hot. So I said, ‘Please don’t take me.’ I wasn’t ready. It got a little worrisome that night.”

That evening was the worst of Freeman’s COVID-19 experience. His fever dropped when he woke the next morning. He was finally fever-free on July 6, though he didn’t regain a sense of taste or smell until days later. July 9 was Freeman’s final day feeling symptoms.

Being symptom-free didn’t clear him to rejoin the team, however. He still needed consecutive negative tests to return.

The Braves, preparing for Opening Day on July 24, readied to start without their best player. On July 16, while the Braves still hadn’t ruled Freeman out for the opener, Snitker said they would “need to make a decision soon.”

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