Following a scary journey in his battle with the coronavirus, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is grateful to even have a chance to play baseball.
On Saturday, the four-time All-Star, who said he didn’t know if he had time to be ready for the Braves’ opener, revealed he had a high temperature of 104.5 degrees early in his battle with the COVID-19 disease and prayed for his life.
“I said a little prayer that night,” Freeman said in a video conference call. “I’ve never been that hot before. My body was really, really hot. … I said, ‘Please don’t take me,’ because I wasn’t ready.”
Freeman said the fever was down to 101 the following morning and broke two days later. He said Saturday was his ninth consecutive day without symptoms, which also included body aches, chills and a temporary loss of his senses of taste and smell. He said two other members of his household, his wife and aunt, were recovering after positive tests.
“It’s very serious,” he said, adding that his family “did everything right” to avoid the disease. “It still somehow got to me.”
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He tested positive at the start of summer camp.
“I feel great,” he said. “I only lost one pound. … I didn’t lose any strength.”
Freeman reported to Truist Park for a workout on Friday only about an hour after receiving his second negative test for the coronavirus, which earned him medical clearance to play.
The Braves said they planned to give Freeman as many at-bats as possible before the season. He had a run-scoring triple over the head of right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. in Saturday night’s intrasquad game and also caught a foul popup over his shoulder.
Freeman’s appreciation of being back with the team was obvious. The Braves posted video on the team’s Twitter account of Freeman, carrying his bat and glove, saying: “This is wonderful,” as he walked out of the dugout and looked out at the field on Friday.
“I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store again,” he said Saturday. “You forget sometimes how much you love this game. I did truly miss it. I was so excited when I got to the yard.”
Freeman said his legs were sore on Saturday after his workout Friday.
“Obviously when you get your best player back, it’s a positive thing and a good thing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I’m excited for him and us, too.”
Freeman set career highs with 38 home runs and 121 RBIs last season to help Atlanta win its second straight NL East title. He placed fourth in the MVP voting in 2018.
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The Braves are set to open the season next Friday at the New York Mets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.