Freeman, Hamels weigh in on idea of Braves games without fans, family

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Braves’ Freddie Freeman and Cole Hamels acknowledged the 2020 season, if there is to be one, might have to begin by playing games in distant stadiums without fans or family in attendance. But both players also expressed hope the season could extend later in the year than usual to allow fans to return to ballparks for as many games as possible.

Freeman and Hamels, in a joint interview via Skype with Fox Sports South's Jeff Francoeur, discussed the idea being kicked around by MLB and its Players Association to have all 30 teams play in empty stadiums in the Phoenix area as a way to eventually start a season delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s going to be weird. It’s going to be a different dynamic when we do get going,” said Freeman, the Braves’ star first baseman. “I think we’re going to have to probably be away from our families a little bit at the beginning.”

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Hamels, the veteran starting pitcher signed by the Braves in December, expressed a similar view.

“It is going to be the time where we have to kind of sacrifice and go and start either training or playing in some location where (family) might not be able to come and watch us,” Hamels said. “But if they’re able to watch us on TV, I think that’s where it’s at.”

Hamels said he hopes that by extending the season later into the calendar year and perhaps expanding the postseason, MLB could play “the most games possible” and perhaps ensure that “a majority of time that fans eventually will be able to come.”

Said Freeman: “Like Cole said, I think a lot of us players would sacrifice a month here to be able to play longer and be able to do this.”