Freddie Freeman chose club over country Tuesday, the Dodgers first baseman withdrew from Team Canada’s World Baseball Classic game against Colombia due to a minor right hamstring injury instead of playing with the pain, a decision that was not as easy as it might have seemed. .
“It was really tough,” Freeman said Wednesday after receiving three hours of treatment at Camelback Ranch. “I apologized to (the coach of Canada) greg hamilton. I feel like I let you down. Obviously he assured me that I didn’t, but that’s how I feel.”
Freeman, 33, chose to play for Canada, as he did in the 2017 WBC, in honor of his late mother, Rosemary, who died of skin cancer when Freeman was 10 years old. He was born and raised in Canada; he grew up in Southern California and starred in Orange El Modena High.
Canada did not win a game in the 2017 tournament, but was 2-2 this year, including a 5-0 win over Colombia. Canada was eliminated with Wednesday 10-3 loss to Mexico.
“Watching TV when you’ve invested as much as you have in the last week, it’s definitely hard to watch,” Freeman said. “It was a wonderful week. Canada, we put on a good show, much better than 2017. Not seeing it complete is hard. So I have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth having to leave the WBC.”
The Dodgers were grateful that Freeman withdrew from Tuesday’s game, with manager Dave Roberts calling it “a very responsible decision.”
Freeman said he felt “a little bit of tension” but not “a hold” on a third-inning swing. He slowly ran out of the box, clearly uncomfortable. He played the next half inning on the field, but was replaced in the fourth.
“I thought it was a cramp, but obviously it didn’t go away,” Freeman said. “No matter what game I’m in, I’m going to play it to the best of my ability, but with Opening Day 15, 16 days away, I was a little nervous about going from first to third or first home. so I finally had to make the difficult decision to come out.”
Both Freeman and Roberts said the injury will in no way affect Freeman’s Opening Day status. Freeman, in fact, said he hopes to return to Cactus League action this weekend.
“Opening day is not in question,” Freeman said. “I feel good. Just a little tight right in the middle of my hamstring. I feel much better today.”
Freeman, the 2020 National League Most Valuable Player, has missed just 10 games since the start of 2018. He appeared in 159 games last year, his first season with the Dodgers after signing a six-year, $162 million contract. , and hit . 325 with a .918 on-base plus slugging percentage, 21 home runs, 100 RBI, and a league-leading 199 hits, 117 runs, and 47 doubles.
The Dodgers are depending on Freeman to jumpstart a lineup that lost shortstop Trea Turner and third baseman Justin Turner in free agency and Gavin Lux to a season-ending knee injury, and they can’t afford to lose left-handed slugger for a while. Extended period of time.
Injury risk is the biggest concern for major league players participating in the WBC: Seven Dodgers players, including ace Julio Urías, right fielder Mookie Betts, and catchers Will Smith and Austin Barnes, have played in the event this year, but the Dodgers seemed to have dodged a bullet with Freeman.
“I was expecting the injury to be milder, and I think this is the best case scenario,” Roberts said. “When you have a situation where we don’t have our eyes on the guys, you always have a little bit of nervousness, a little bit of fear of injury and hopefully this is the worst.”
Times staff writer Jorge Castillo contributed to this story.