Freddie Freeman left Braves over business. His return is all love.

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) greets Atlanta Braves third-base coach Ron Washington (37) at the end of the fourth inning at Truist Park Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) greets Atlanta Braves third-base coach Ron Washington (37) at the end of the fourth inning at Truist Park Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Braves moved on from Freddie Freeman because they weren’t willing to meet what they believed were his contract demands. Freeman never wanted to play anywhere else but he’s a Dodger now. That’s the business of baseball. Freeman’s return to Truist Park on Friday was personal.

That was clear before Freeman even took the field. He abandoned his first attempt to address media because he was too emotional. He left the room to gather himself, but couldn’t. When Freeman returned he spoke haltingly through tears, trying to explain what coming back here means to him.

“You can tell how much I truly do love this organization and this city,” Freeman said. “I don’t even know how I’m going to get through this weekend, I’ll be honest.”

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Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman becomes extremely emotional fighting back tears during his pregame press conference returning to Atlanta with the Los Angles Dodgers for a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman becomes extremely emotional fighting back tears during his pregame press conference returning to Atlanta with the Los Angles Dodgers for a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman becomes extremely emotional fighting back tears during his pregame press conference returning to Atlanta with the Los Angles Dodgers for a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

He raised a good point. Freeman was overwhelmed with emotion before he even took the field for batting practice. He’s always been a dedicated professional, but how could Freeman be all business when coming back here is so personal? How would Freeman hold his emotions together during the inevitable, multiple standing ovations from Braves fans through the weekend?

And how would Freeman react when the Braves presented his World Series ring in a pregame ceremony?

“Probably this, again,” Freeman said, still crying but flashing a smile.

He was right. After a pregame video tribute played on the scoreboard, Freeman emerged from the visiting dugout with red eyes. Freeman wiped away tears after hugging Braves manager Brian Snitker and accepting his ring. Freeman was still wiping them as he took the microphone to tell Braves fans how much he appreciated their support over the years.

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Freeman’s relationship with the Dodgers is only weeks old. He was a Braves standout for 12 years. There should be no lingering animosity among Braves backers about Freeman leaving. There are no hard feelings, judging by the reception he got on Friday, .

“I know I’ve got a different uniform on, but I still love each and every one of you guys,” Freeman told fans. “This is one of the hardest days of my life, but also one of the most amazing days of my life. Bear with me while I cry a lot during this game and (through) the weekend.”

Freeman was at the plate a few minutes later. He hits No. 2 in the order for the Dodgers after usually hitting third for the Braves. Freeman tipped his helmet to the crowd during another standing ovation. All the emotion didn’t seem to affect his play. Freeman was 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored as the Dodgers won 4-1.

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Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman reacts to the crowd as Atlanta Braves fans give Freeman a standing ovation before Freeman’s first at bat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

 Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman reacts to the crowd as Atlanta Braves fans give Freeman a standing ovation before Freeman’s first at bat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman reacts to the crowd as Atlanta Braves fans give Freeman a standing ovation before Freeman’s first at bat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Freeman’s return felt like the final chapter of the World Series celebration that began during opening weekend. Seven other ex-Braves players have been presented with their rings while visiting Truist Park this season. No offense to those guys, but this was different.

This was “Fredd-ie! Fredd-ie!”

“I was looking forward to today but I’m hoping it’s Monday soon,” Freeman said before the game. “God, this is a lot harder than I thought.”

That makes sense. Freeman had only ever played for the Braves until this year. They drafted him in 2007 and he played 11 full big-league seasons for them. He was good-to-great for all those seasons. Freeman was voted NL MVP in 2020 and finished in the top 10 five other times. Per Baseball-Reference, Freeman’s 43.1 Wins Above Replacement are eighth-most among Atlanta-era Braves who spent most of their careers with the organization.

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna gets a hug from Los Angles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman after drawing a walk during the first inning in a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna gets a hug from Los Angles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman after drawing a walk during the first inning in a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna gets a hug from Los Angles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman after drawing a walk during the first inning in a MLB baseball game on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Chipper Jones is the only one of those players who never suited up for another team. He’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. There was a time when it seemed Freeman would finish out his career with the Braves while making his own case for the Hall. The possibility Freeman might leave became real when he didn’t have a contract extension by the start of last season.

Freeman helped the Braves win the World Series in October. Then he was in contract limbo from the time team owners locked out players in December until a labor agreement was reached in March. Soon, the Braves traded for Matt Olson and immediately signed him to an eight-year contract extension for $168 million. The Braves committed long-term to Olson, who is not as accomplished as Freeman but is four years younger. Freeman signed with the Dodgers for $162 million over six years.

It was an awkward breakup for Freeman and the Braves. A 15-year union ended in a matter of days. Is Freeman seeking closure this weekend? Does he have any regrets?

“There is, for me, nothing to close,” Freeman said. “The regret question is a whole different side of the story that I’m not here to talk about ... because if I got into that we’d be here a long time and that emotion would change, big time.

“I think the people that know me, (they) know a little bit about what happened a few months ago, so I’m going to leave it at that.”

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Braves third baseman Austin Riley, left, greets Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) as Freeman advanced to third base during the first inning at Truist Park Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Braves third baseman Austin Riley, left, greets Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) as Freeman advanced to third base during the first inning at Truist Park Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Braves third baseman Austin Riley, left, greets Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) as Freeman advanced to third base during the first inning at Truist Park Friday, June 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

What happened is there was a disconnect somewhere in the negotiating process. Something got lost in the communication among Freeman, his representatives and the Braves. Ultimately, the Braves made a financial decision and so did Freeman.

That’s the business of baseball, but it’s over now. Freeman plays for the Dodgers. His return to Truist Park is personal. Freeman got the enthusiastic welcome he deserved from fans and a chance to thank them. The mutual love will continue through the weekend.

“I love the Braves organization with all my heart,” Freeman said. “That will never change.”