BEGINNING: Freeman returns to Atlanta, Pham sees Pederson

A glimpse of what’s happening around the majors today:

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LOAN FROM FREDDIE

Freddie Freeman is sure to get a huge ovation when he 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 at his former home.

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

At 32, he’s hitting .303 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. He homered and drove in three runs Thursday in a 10-5 win at Cincinnati.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” he said after the win. “I can’t wait to get home and see my family. They’ve been in Atlanta for a few days. I’ve been asked a few times, and I’m just saying no, not (talking) right now. Anything that m “What matters is to go home to my family. Tomorrow you can ask me these questions and I’ll see what kind of emotions I have tomorrow.”

FANTASTIC FACE-TO-FACE

The last time Giants’ Joc Pederson and Reds’ Tommy Pham were on the pitch together, it didn’t go so well. It was three weeks ago in Cincinnati when Pham slapped Pederson in the face before a game due to a fantasy football argument.

Pham was suspended for three games by Major League Baseball.

The outfielders will meet again when the Reds travel to San Francisco for a weekend series. Pederson said he hopes Giants fans don’t get overwhelmed when Pham plays at Oracle Park.

“It’s an unfortunate incident, and I feel like we’re past it,” Pederson said. “It was a problem off the pitch, dealt with and moved on. It’s in the rear view mirror.

Pederson added that he has had no contact with Pham since the incident.

Cincinnati has lost seven in a row.

TROUT NAILS

Mike Trout absolutely hammered the Mariners last weekend and can now face them again when the Los Angeles Angels host Seattle.

Trout is coming off five home runs in a five-game series at Seattle. He hit 52 homers in his career against the Mariners, tying Rafael Palmeiro for the most by anyone against them.

The three-time AL MVP didn’t play Wednesday and the Angels were out Thursday, so he should be well rested.

Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star who put in a pair of dazzling performances for the Angels this week, will also be back from a day off.

On Tuesday night, Ohtani hit a pair of three-run homers and had a career-high eight runs, the most by a Japanese-born player in the major leagues. On Wednesday night, he hit a career-high 13 while throwing eight two-hit scoreless innings against Kansas City.

HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN

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

Verlander is 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 career starts at the park, but he also had some highlights. In 2018, the two-time Cy Young Award winner kicked a one-point ball in the seventh, then sarcastically tipped his cap at booed fans.

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

THE FRANCONA BOWL

A pair of surging teams that Terry Francona managed to meet at Progressive Field when the Boston Red Sox take on Cleveland.

Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and the Red Sox have won eight of 10 games to move a season-high eight games above .500. The Guardians lead the AL Central, boosted by their 17-5 streak.

Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-5, 3.31 ERA) starts Game 1 of the three-game series against right-hander Cal Quantrill (4-4, 3.77).

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

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