Freddie Freeman was certainly grateful to be back at Braves camp this weekend.
The 30-year-old slugger was finally cleared to return after what was a scary battle with COVID-19, which has kept him out of camp since players began to report on July 3.
On Saturday, Freeman detailed his harrowing experience with the coronavirus on a video conference with reporters, in which he revealed that his temperature reached a high of 104.5 degrees one day and left him praying for his life.
“I said a little prayer that night,” Freeman said while wearing a mask on the 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, who also experienced body aches, chills and temporary loss of taste and smell, said his temperature lowered to 101 the next morning and finally broke two days later.
Freeman noted that Saturday marked nine consecutive days without symptoms, but he did not receive his second negative test until Friday, which cleared him to play.
“I feel great,” he said. “I only lost one pound. … I didn’t lose any strength.”
Freeman was one of four Braves players – Touki Toussaint, Will Smith and Pete Kozma -- who tested positive at the start of summer camp, but only he and Toussaint have returned.
His experience swayed right fielder Nick Markakis to opt out of the season, although Freeman said he was not trying to influence him one way or the other.
“Unfortunately, that was my worst day,” he said. “He just wasn’t into it, and I totally, totally get it.”
The Braves attempted to replace Markakis by signing Yasiel Puig, but he also tested positive for COVID-19, which caused the deal to fall apart.
The Braves open the season on Friday against the Mets and are hopeful Freeman will be ready to go.
While Freeman said his legs were sore following Friday’s workout, the first baseman hit a run-scoring triple in Saturday’s intrasquad game. Manager Brian Snitker said the plan is to get Freeman as many at-bats as possible with exhibition games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Regardless, Freeman is just happy to be back on the field.
“I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store again,” he said. “You forget sometimes how much you love this game. I did truly miss it. I was so excited when I got to the yard.”