Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman rejoined the team Friday after two negative COVID-19 tests. Freeman tested positive on July 3, delaying his start to the 2020 season.
Freeman endured body aches, chills, headaches and other COVID symptoms. Speaking with reporters for the first time Saturday, he detailed what he’d experienced in the past two weeks:
“I tested negative on the intake and felt great on Tuesday (June 30). Then Thursday (July 2) morning, 36 hours after, I woke up at about 5 a.m. with full body aches. I didn’t know – it didn’t cross my mind that it was coronavirus when I woke up that morning. We were on California time (Freeman and his family had been in Southern California before returning to Atlanta), I went to bed late and didn’t get enough sleep. So I took some Tylenol, some ZzzQuil and finally got back to bed. Then I woke up around 11:30 and I immediately grabbed my phone and texted my wife and said, ‘Something is wrong. I need you to bring a thermometer.’ They gunned my forehead and it said 102 fever. I looked at it and said, ‘I think I need to call (Braves trainer) George (Poulis). I think something is different.’
“So I called George. They got me an appointment at Emory and I did a nasal swab, which isn’t fun. I got those results Friday night (July 3) and I was positive. The crazy thing is, Friday morning, I woke up in a pool of sweat, gunned my forehead and it said 98.2, so I had no fever that morning. That was 7:30 in the morning. So I went to the field because I was waiting for the test, I hit, I threw, I worked out and I ran at my house and felt completely fine. By 2 p.m., it hit me like a ton of bricks. I came back and I was like ‘Wow. I’m not feeling very good.’ It just snowballed after that.
“Friday night, that was the scariest night for me. I spiked to 104.5 fever. Thankfully, George wasn’t awake when I texted him because I probably would’ve gone to the hospital. Ten minutes after that, I gunned my forehead again and I was 103.8, then 103.2, then 103.6. So I was like, ‘If I go above 104 again, I’ll probably have to start ringing the phone and try to figure this out.
“I said a little prayer that night. 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 for me. I took some NyQuil, Tylenol and I was able to go to sleep. I was just scared to go to bed. I was scared if I spiked even higher when I was sleeping what would happen. I woke up at 7 a.m. the next morning and I was 101.5, so I was like, ‘Whew. I can take the 101.’ Friday night was my worst night.
“Sunday (July 5), I was sitting at 99.3 to about 104. Monday (July 6), I broke my fever. Completely fine, fever-free. My aches were gone, chills were gone, headaches were gone. From Monday to Thursday (July 9), it almost felt like I had a sinus problem. I’d stand up, get dizzy and I’d have to sit back down. Trying to tell my 3-year-old not to come around me was difficult. I wore masks, gloves, I was playing cars with them. Ten minutes after playing cars with them I’d have to sit down. I was a little fatigued and tired. Then, every three hours it felt like I had to take a nap. Come Thursday (July 9), a week after my first symptoms, I wasn’t feeling that great again. I took a nap that day, and when I woke up from the nap, I told my wife Chelsea, ‘I feel absolutely great. Get me carbs though. I need carbs.’ So I ate some Italian food and I have felt perfectly fine since Thursday. Today (Saturday) is my ninth day with no symptoms.
“Talking to a lot of other people, it was very surprising that I was able to test negative. I know a lot of other former teammates and friends who are farther along and symptom-free and still testing positive. I was very surprised. I got the phone call (Friday) morning. I stayed up until 2 or 3 (a.m.) every morning waiting for George to call because sometimes the test results would come in at 1:30 in the morning. So every night I was staying up late. I had two tests in, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s tests, and Thursday night I was getting frustrated. ‘Why haven’t I gotten Tuesday’s results? I’m more days out from being completely 100%.’ Then Friday morning at 9:15, I hear my phone (buzzing), I looked and it said George.
“He said, ‘You just hit a home run.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He goes, ‘You have back-to-back negatives.’ I said, ‘No way.’ He goes, ‘I need you at Emory at 10 a.m.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there.’ So I had to do a cardiac exam, an ultrasound, echo, EKG and blood tests. I got back completely cleared by 1 p.m. and I was at (Truist Park) at 2 p.m. for a workout.
“I feel great. I only lost one pound, so that was good. I lost my taste and smell for about four days, which was very weird. I woke up and it felt like I mouth breathed all night. ‘This just doesn’t feel right in my mouth.’ I brushed my teeth, couldn’t taste toothpaste. It didn’t dawn on me that I lost my taste and smell until my aunt went and got me a coffee and I couldn’t taste the coffee. So we went and grabbed barbeque sauce and I put it up to my nose and couldn’t smell anything. I tried to taste it, couldn’t taste anything. So that lasted four days. Other than that, it was just bad the first three days for me.
“Everyone kept asking me, ‘What’s it like? What can you compare it to?’ And to be honest, I rarely ever get sick. I can’t remember the last time I ever had a fever. So I really had nothing to compare it to. I just say it’s the coronavirus. I can’t compare it to the flu. I can’t compare it to a cold. I’ve never had a 104.5 fever before. It hit me hard.
“My aunt was positive as well in my house. It hit her hard for about two days and then she was tired for about four or five days after that. Lost her taste and smell after that as well. My wife was positive. She lost her taste and smell but she only had mild body aches, so she didn’t get it as bad thankfully. I saw my dad and grandfather on Monday, the day I left (California), and they’re all healthy. That’s good news. I was more worried about them than myself. I want to give a shout out to the Angels’ doctors. They were in touch with my dad there too to make sure he was OK.
“It’s been a wild ride. I’m a little shocked I’m here as soon based on the information I’ve been given and friends I have who still have it and have been symptom-free longer than me. I’m glad to be here, six days (until opening day). I know your next question is if I’ll be ready for opening day. We’re going to try. That’s the whole goal, for me to be ready opening day. Thankfully, it’s not like a normal spring training. We can control the games. So the whole plan, talking to (manager Brian Snitker), I’m going to be getting five or six at-bats for the next five days. … I’m trying to get potentially 30 at-bats over the next five days. I did a full workout yesterday. We’re going to take it day by day. My legs are a little sore – I was working out when I was symptom-free at my house – you still can’t work out getting ready for groundballs and stuff like that. You’re always going to be sore the first day or so.
“I feel great, I feel strong. I didn’t lose any strength. I was able to work out two days before yesterday. I feel good. That’s my last two weeks in a nutshell. I know that was a long talk.”
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