Freeman reaches 3 times, scores in Dodgers debut, beats Rox

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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DENVER — Freddie Freeman‘s Dodgers debut included reaching base three times, scoring a run and providing a comforting shoulder.

Colorado’s Jose Iglesias was emotional standing at first base following an early RBI single. When Freeman asked what was wrong, Iglesias said he’d just recently lost his father.

The Los Angeles star first baseman offered words of encouragement.

“It was a beautiful moment,” Iglesias said after the Dodgers beat the Rockies 5-3 Friday in a season opener. “Beyond baseball, we’re human beings. That was very nice of Freddie.”

Freeman lost his mother, Rosemary, to skin cancer when he was 10.

“He’s like, `I know what you’re going through,”‘ recounted Iglesias, whose father was from Cuba. “It was very emotional for me.”

Freeman started his Dodgers tenure with a solid day – and a win. The 2020 NL MVP signed a six-year, $162 million deal with Los Angeles after leading the Atlanta Braves to a World Series championship last season.

Freeman struck out in his first at-bat, then was hit by a pitch, walked and scored in the Dodgers’ five-run fourth inning, and lined a sharp single before taking a called third strike in the eighth.

“Freddie, it’s not going to show up in the scorecard, but going first to third in a situation where there was a wild pitch and scores an insurance run, those are things where it’s a little microcosm of what we can do,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Colorado’s big offseason acquisition, Kris Bryant, had a double and a walk but struck out against Craig Kimbrel with a runner on to end the game. Bryant agreed to a seven-year, $182 million to be a big bat in the top of the order.

With or without Freeman and Bryant, this remains clear: The Dodgers have dominated the series. Los Angeles moved to 49-20 against the Rockies since 2018, which also just so happens to be the last season that Colorado won a home series against the Dodgers.

Walker Buehler pretty much picked up right where he left off in 2021, getting the win in allowing two runs and four hits in five innings while striking out five. The All-Star righty is coming off a 16-4 season where he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting.

Kimbrel, who was traded to the Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox on April 1, allowed an RBI double to Charlie Blackmon before striking out Bryant on a knuckle-curve to earn the save.

“Just frozen,” Bryant explained.

Gavin Lux had a two-run single in the pivotal five-run fourth – all with two outs – that turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead.

That was plenty for Buehler, who ended his day by striking out C.J. Cron on a cutter with two runners on in the fifth.

“To get off to a good start for our team is the biggest thing,” Buehler said. “I was fortunate that we put up that inning there to put me in a spot to get a win.”

Denver native Kyle Freeland started out strong before things went sideways in the fourth as he made his second opening-day start. The lefty allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings and took the loss.

Colorado jumped out to a lead in the second courtesy of contributions from two of their newest players. Randal Grichuk had an RBI grounder and Iglesias hit a run-scoring single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: Roberts said LHP Victor Gonzalez was placed on the injured list after experiencing soreness in his elbow.

PERFECT STRIKE

New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson delivered fastball right down the middle when he tossed out the first pitch to Bryant, who served as his catcher.

Wilson took the mound wearing a Rockies jersey with No. 3 on the back. His pitch received plenty of cheers from the sellout crowd of 48,627.

Wilson was once an infielder taken by Colorado in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He hit .229 over two minor league seasons, before settling on football.

Bryant received a signed Broncos jersey from Wilson.

“Awesome dude,” Bryant said. “The Broncos got a special one.”

QUOTABLE

“It’s just a new uniform. Same game. But I’m excited to get going and get this next chapter of my career going.” – Freeman before the game on making his Dodgers debut.

UP NEXT

The Dodgers will throw right-hander Tony Gonsolin on Saturday, while the Rockies counter with All-Star righty German Marquez.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp
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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”