NEW YORK – Freddie Freeman entered Monday night’s series opener against the Mets with a 22-game hitting streak and a 38-game on-base streak, both career-bests and the longest active streaks in the majors. But the Braves first baseman insisted he felt zero pressure to continue either of them.
You see, Freeman got a big shot of perspective these past few days when he became a first-time dad, after being by his wife Chelsea’s side for much of more than 24 hours of active labor she endured before an emergency C-section Thursday brought their healthy boy into the world.
Chelsea and Freddie left the hosptial Sunday night with baby Frederick Charles Freeman II, whom his parents are calling “Charlie.” Instead of flying on the team’s charter flight to New York after Sunday’s game in Atlanta, Freddie stayed with his wife and son for their first night at home. It was a sleepless night for all.
“We definitely found out what his lungs were capable of doing last night; he was screaming pretty much the whole night,” said Freeman, smiling. “We got him to stop crying at about 5 or 6 a.m. Of course I’ve got to leave about two hours later (on an 11:45 a.m. flight). He was laying on my chest for about two hours, then it was, like, 9:30 and I had to get up and leave. That was probably one of the toughest moments so far, having to leave my wife and my son.
“But it was nice that I was able to stay last night. Takes one night off the road trip, so it’s only six (nights away) this time.”
Fueled by adrenaline and caffeine, Freeman didn’t merely extend his streaks Monday night, he turned in a spectacular performance, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs, his 41st double and his 31st home run to power the Braves to a 7-3 win over the Mets. Chelsea published a photo on Instagram of Charlie being held in front of a TV showing the game.
It’s the last road trip of the season, and in two weeks Freeman won’t have to leave each day to go to the ballpark. He’ll have a whole lot of time to spend with his son, whom Freddie said continues to marvel him each time he looks at the baby and thinks, Chelsea and I made that beautiful boy.
The Braves were off Thursday, and Freeman missed just one game Friday before he was back in the lineup. He went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday, perhaps the worst game of his streaks, but didn’t mind, all things considered. Freeman had two hits Sunday in a second consecutive win against the Nationals.
He figures he had “eight or 10 hours” of total sleep over the past three nights including Sunday, after not getting any sleep Wednesday or Thursday.
“I really didn’t think I was going to be doing much on Saturday when I came back,” he said. “I was able to get a hit in the second at-bat. But to keep it going with little to no sleep, it’s been pretty cool. It’s been a whirlwind, and I’ve got my hands full again tonight (Mondeay against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard). But everything’s good.
“It just kind of takes your mind off the statistics and things people are telling you – ‘You’ve got this hit streak and this on-base streak.’ I’m like, OK, that’s cool, and the next minute I’m tying to look at my son and FaceTime my wife to see what he’s doing. It just takes your mind of everything and you just go out there and play. So maybe it’s actually been pretty good timing.
“But it’s been tough. That Saturday, I was standing in the box (hallucinating from fatigue) and there were, like, three (pitchers) out there. I was so tired I was trying to keep my eyes open. Everybody who’s a father knows. I’m just getting into it; I’m sure I’m going to have a lot more sleepless nights.”
He caught a late-morning flight to New York, landed at 1:30 p.m. and went straight from the airport to Citi Field for Monday night’s series opener against the Mets.
For the record, Freeman’s on-base streak began after he 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Aug. 5 at St. Louis and many observers opined that he needed to sit for a day or three, that he looked tired. All he did Aug. 6 was go 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs and a two walks, beginning a streak that has seen Freeman bat .380 with 15 doubles, 13 homers and 40 RBIs over 39 games, with a .497 OBP and .769 slugging percentage.
Still, he said before Monday’s game, “A hitting streak is the last thing on my mind. I’ve got a kid. If (the streak) ends, it ends. It’s going to end sometime, let’s just hope it doesn’t end here.”
He also had a bit different take on the soreness he felt hitting Saturday after getting little or no sleep for two days and playing a major league baseball game.
“Every time I think about how tired I am, I put things in perspective – I think about what my wife just did,” he said. “I feel great compared to what she just did. I can’t complain about being tired, because she’s a lot more tired than me.”
He laughed and said, “My body hurts and I’m like, I can’t say that anymore. I felt so bad (physically) the first day back, and I’m like, Gosh, everything aches. And I’m like, well, I can’t say that. Every time I think of how tired I am or how much my body hurts, I just put that away and think about what she did. Having a kid is the most amazing and surreal thing, and what your wife had to go through to do that, it just puts everything in perspective.”
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