ATLANTA (AP) — Braves star Freddie Freeman has made it clear he wants to complete his career in Atlanta. So naturally, he’s tried to avoid thoughts that he could be facing his final three home games with the team.
Freeman is a pending unrestricted free agent. The 32-year-old first baseman led the Braves into Game 3 of the World Series at Truist Park with the Braves and Houston Astros tied at one game each.
“I haven’t envisioned playing anywhere else because I haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Freeman said before Friday night’s game. “I’ve put on this uniform since 2007. I got to put on a Braves uniform with the Gulf Coast League team. It’s all I’ve ever known.”
Though it may not be the best negotiating tactic, Freeman has never been reluctant to state his preference.
“I think everyone in this room knows I want to stay here,” he said.
The idea of not having Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP, in the 2022 lineup is not something Braves manager Brian Snitker enjoys contemplating.
“He means a lot to this franchise, to me personally, to our organization, to that clubhouse, our team,” Snitker said. “There isn’t a way to quantify it. Just what he brings is so important. ... Would I love to have him back? Absolutely. I think everybody in that room would love to have him back, but I also know this is a business and things happen.”
To Dusty Baker, his Astros aren’t automatically in trouble because his club loses the designated hitter during the World Series games in Atlanta.
Besides, the Houston manager easily found a spot for productive DH Yordan Alvarez in Game 3.
Luis Garcia was set to pitch for Houston. He was for 0 for 6 in his career at the plate.
Ian Anderson starts for the Braves and hasn’t been a threat with the bat. He’s just 2 for 37 with 29 strikeouts and zero RBIs.
Baker didn’t sound too worried about playing minus the DH.
“It could be a disadvantage if the other guy can hit. If the other guy can’t hit, there’s no advantage at all,” Baker said.
“Just because they’ve done it doesn’t mean they can do it,” he said.
Álvarez was MVP of the AL Championship Series as a slugging DH and filled that role for the first two games against the Braves. He started in left field for Game 3 -- he started there 39 times this season, so he’s not lost out there.
Michael Brantley shifted from left field to right to make room for Álvarez.
Astros reliever Phil Maton realizes his number makes him look more like an NFL receiver than a major league pitcher -- 88 isn’t for everyone.
Maton has worn the number with San Diego, Cleveland and Houston. He was acquired in late July from Cleveland with a minor leaguer for outfielder Myles Straw in a trade that wasn’t initially popular with Astros fans.
Houston fans like the deal now, especially since the 28-year-old righty has pitched nine times in this postseason, permitting only one run in 8 1/3 innings.
Maton said his unusual 88 serves him well.
“That was the number I was given in my first big league spring training. I don’t know, I was a 20th rounder, didn’t get a lot of attention,” he said before Game 3 Friday night.
“So I feel like the number kind of fits me, corner of the locker room, the prospects get all of the good numbers. So kind of like the underdog thing with being 88. It’s not a sexy number, so I don’t know, I like it,” he said.
LET’S PLAY TWO
An all-day rain wiped out batting practice before Game 3 at Truist Park, and forced the Braves and Astros into the indoor cages. But the damp conditions didn’t deter Atlanta coach Ron Washington from his daily drills with first baseman Freddie Freeman.
With a staffer holding an umbrella, Washington hit one-hoppers to Freeman from close range.
There hasn’t been a rainout at the World Series since 2011, when Game 6 in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Texas was delayed by a day.
By Major League Baseball rule, no postseason game can be shortened by rain and considered completed. Any game stopped by weather becomes a suspension that must be finished.
That rule was put in place in 2008, after Game 5 of the World Series in Philadelphia was suspended in the sixth inning with the Phillies and Tampa Bay tied at 2. Two days later, play resumed and the Phillies clinched the championship.
But just wondering, what if the Astros and Braves played, say, seven innings Friday night? Would they finish Saturday and then start Game 4 an hour later?
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