Leading: Freeman returns to Atlanta, sees Pham Pedersen

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Freddy’s ready

It’s sure to get a big ovation when Freddie Freeman returns to Truist Park for the first time since helping lead the Atlanta Braves to the World Series Championship.

Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the star first baseman and NL West Leaders open a weekend series in their former home.

Freeman was a longtime beloved face of the Braves franchise. After a dozen years in Atlanta, he became a free agent and signed a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers.

At 32, he is hitting .303 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. He scored three runs in a 10-5 win in Cincinnati on Thursday.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” he said after the win. “Just looking forward to coming home and seeing my family. He has been in Atlanta for a few days. I’ve been asked a couple of times, and I’m just saying no, no (talking) right now. All I care about is that my family is getting a home. Tomorrow you can ask me these questions, and I’ll see what kind of emotions run through me tomorrow.”

imaginary face

The last time Giants’ Jock Pedersen and Reds’ Tommy Pham were on the field together, it didn’t go so well. It was three weeks earlier in Cincinnati when the fan slapped Pedersen in the face before a game because of a controversy over fantasy football.

Pham was suspended for three matches by Major League Baseball.

The outfielders will see each other again when the Reds travel to San Francisco for the weekend series. Pedersen said he hopes Giants fans won’t take it too far when Pham is playing at Oracle Park.

“It’s an unfortunate incident, and I think we’ve got over it,” Pedersen said. “It was an off-field issue, handled it and moved on. It’s in the rear-view mirror.”

Pedersen said he had no contact with Pham since the incident.

Cincinnati has lost seven in a row.

Trout effect

Mike Trout totally impressed the Mariners last weekend and now faces them again when the Los Angeles Angels host Seattle.

Trout is fresh from scoring five home runs in the five-match series in Seattle. He hit 52 homers in his career for the Mariners, with Rafael Palmeiro most matches against them.

The three-time AL MVP did not play on Wednesday and the Angels were closed on Thursday, so he should be well rested.

Also taking a day off will be Two-Way star Shohei Ohtani, who put on a pair of dazzling performances for Angels this week.

On Tuesday night, Ohtani hit a pair of three-run homers and scored a career-high eight runs, the most by a Japanese-born player in the major leagues. On Wednesday night, he hit a career-best 13 not out against Kansas City in eight scoreless innings of a two-hit ball.

welcome back

Astros ace Justin Verlander (8-3, 2.30 ERA) pitches at Yankee Stadium for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 AL Championship Series, a 4-1 loss to Houston.

Verlander is 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 career starts at the park, but he has some high moments as well. In 2018, the two-time Cy Young Award winner bowled a run in the seventh, then sarcastically took off his hat to enrage fans.

Verlander will face New York right-winger Luis Severino (4-1, 3.27) on the second night of a four-game set between the AL East-leading Yanks and the AL West-leading Astros.

Francona Bowl

A pair of rising teams, managed by Terry Francona, meet at Progressive Field when the Boston Red Sox play Cleveland.

Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and the Red Sox have won eight out of 10 and have taken the season-high eight games above .500. The Guardians lead the AL Central, extended from their 17-5 stretch.

Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-5, 3.31 ERA) started the three-match series against Cal Quantrill (4-4, 3.77).

Francona won two World Series championships while managing the Red Sox, including a 2004 victory that ended the team’s 86-year drought. Cleveland has not won the crown since 1948.

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