Braves return 'far exceeded my expectations', says 'worn out' Freeman

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Freddie Freeman's emotions were "all over the place" when he faced the Braves for the first time in April – and it was more of the same in Friday's return to Atlanta.

Freeman spent 12 seasons with the Braves, earning five All-Star appearances and the NL MVP trophy in 2020, before signing a six-year, $162million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason.

The first baseman's first two home runs for the Dodgers then came in a three-game series against the Braves in LA earlier this season.

But this week has brought Freeman back to Atlanta for the first time since helping to inspire the Braves' World Series success last year.

Friday started with Freeman struggling to contain his emotions as he fulfilled pre-game media duties, briefly leaving the interview room at Truist Park in tears and returning to say: "I don't even know how I'm going to get through this weekend, guys, if I'm being honest."

There were more tears as he received his championship ring from Braves manager Brian Snitker following a video tribute on the center-field screen.

"I know I have a different uniform on," he said to the crowd on Bally Sports, "but I still love each and every one of you guys."

Freeman then had to get to work, but the tributes did not stop. The Braves' organist played 'We Are The Champions' as he came to bat in the top of the first inning, earning another standing ovation.

"It's hard to put into words," Freeman told Spectrum SportsNet after two walks, one hit and two runs scored in the Dodgers' 4-1 win.

"I left everything I had on this field, every single night, and I think they understood that. I love them very, very much, and they showed me the love tonight.

"I'm so glad I got walked, because I couldn't feel my legs – I couldn't feel my legs for a few innings, to be honest with you. It was emotional, and I am worn out."

He added: "I tried to envision what tonight was going to be like, and this far exceeded my expectations. It was just a special, special evening."

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