WBC 2023 – Why Freddie Freeman is enjoying for Team Canada

PHOENIX — When Team USA takes the sphere for the World Baseball Classic with a star-studded roster Monday evening at Chase Field, Freddie Freeman will probably be within the different dugout sporting a purple uniform with Canada written throughout his chest.

The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman turned down the choice to play for the United States on this yr’s WBC, selecting as an alternative to signify the nation the place his late mom was born and grew up.

It’s the identical resolution he made in 2017, when the U.S. gained the event. Like then, Canada is an extended shot, whereas Team USA is a favourite to take the title, however that is not what’s vital to Freeman.

“I’m not sure this is what she would want me to do, but in my heart, this is what I feel I should be doing to honor her,” Freeman stated earlier than the WBC. “I think she would be proud that I’m doing this. I think this is the right move to honor Rosemary Freeman.”

Rosemary Freeman died of pores and skin most cancers when Freddie was simply 10 years previous, however he is aware of what Canada meant to his mom even at that younger age, although he was born and raised in Southern California after his mother and father had moved from Ontario.

“I was 8 years old and we were at an Angels game,” Freeman recalled. “I was eating popcorn and the Canadian national anthem is playing and I’m sitting. [Then] it felt like someone just ripped me up. It felt like I was just hanging and it was my mom [who pulled me out of my seat]. It’s those little things that I remember.”

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Honoring his mom means Freeman will probably be dealing with a group with many acquainted faces, together with fellow Dodger Mookie Betts and plenty of different main league All-Star teammates on Monday evening. The recreation has heightened significance within the Pool C standings after Canada began its WBC schedule with a win over Great Britain and Team USA fell to 1-1 with a loss to Mexico on Sunday. Freeman referred to as it a tough resolution to forego Team USA, however one he has no regrets about.

“Leaving your team to play for your home country, there’s no right or wrong decision in that,” he stated. “Whatever you feel is going to be the right decision, is the right decision.”

Among these Freeman is aware of effectively who will probably be within the different dugout Monday evening is Team USA supervisor Mark DeRosa, who resides in Atlanta, the place Freeman was a star for over a decade. The two dined collectively this spring, and the U.S. skipper has no plans of going simple on Freeman when their groups meet.

“Completely understand what he’s doing,” DeRosa stated. “I’ve known Freddie forever … watching him become one of the best players in the game. [And] certainly based on what we see, I’m not going to let Freddie beat us.”

It’s the identical feeling gamers like Betts or former teammate Trea Turner could have collaborating within the distinctive from-friend-to-rival matchup that the WBC produces. Both would have cherished to see Freeman swimsuit up for the U.S., however they perceive the significance of honoring his mom’s heritage.

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“We’d love to have him over here, but I know he’s [played for Canada] and he sticks with it,” Turner stated. “It’s going to be weird being across the dugout from him again like early in my career. But he’s a stud, and we’ve got to watch out for him. He’ll be a tough at-bat for us.”

Said Betts: “That describes what Freddy is all about. And if I get on first base, yeah, we’ll have some fun. Freddie and I have that bond, but that bond with a mom is special.”

Freeman honors Rosemary extra than simply as soon as each few years in worldwide competitors. He wears sleeves below his uniform in remembrance of her as effectively. Melanoma runs in his household, so it is also for his personal well being.

“I’d rather be hot for a few hours than go through chemotherapy,” Freeman stated. “I’m redheaded and fair skinned, so it plays a little bit of both [honoring her and protecting myself].”

Freeman additionally desires to shine a lightweight on Canadian baseball. Anyone from the nation who picks up a bat as an alternative of a hockey stick is aware of they don’t seem to be more likely to get almost the identical consideration on the diamond as a star on the ice.

“If everyone was healthy and played, there’s a lot of really good Canadian baseball players,” Freeman stated. “I’m happy to jump in with them.”

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He has already made an enormous impression on youthful Canadian teammates who usually would not be sharing a locker room with a former MLB MVP. Easily the most important identify on a group that options simply 5 present main leaguers on the roster, Freeman has many eyes on him contained in the Canada clubhouse.

“In the cage, Freddie was talking about his routine, his approach, how you have to keep the routine and don’t stray from it because that’s one thing that you always have to have,” Team Canada outfielder and Chicago Cubs prospect Owen Cassie stated. “It’s cool because not many 20-year-olds get to play for their country, so I’m just very, very grateful for the opportunity that I can actually be around these guys and know that I can ask questions and not be scrutinized for it.”

If Canada can pull off an upset Monday, Freeman could have undoubtedly achieved his objective of getting his group some consideration. And he would in all probability take a second to consider his mother, who handed away lengthy earlier than her son would develop to dominate the game like few others have in his period — and do it as a proud son of her native nation.

“Everyone likes the story of my past, but I think Canadians want wins, and so do we,” Freeman stated. “She was a wonderful person that got taken way too early. God needed an angel. It was unfortunate, but she was a wonderful person.”