BRADENTON, Fla. -- David Freese walked into the Pirates' clubhouse early Saturday morning, prior to the Bucs' 3-0 loss to the Tigers, and found his locker in a corner next to Jordy Mercer and adjacent to Andrew McCutchen. After a long offseason of waiting, Freese found his new home.
Freese reported to McKechnie Field on Saturday, a day after signing a one-year, $3 million deal to bolster the Pirates' infield. Considered the top free-agent third baseman available when the offseason began, Freese had to wait until Friday to find the right deal.
"It's been interesting, to say the least," Freese said outside of the Pirates' clubhouse. "But I've stayed patient."
Freese waited and watched as other free agents came off the board. He waited and watched MLB Network more than any other previous offseason, sidelined as other teams took the field for Spring Training. He waited and watched as the league got younger around him.
"I'm not good at trying to control stuff you can't control, so I think God said, 'Here you go. We'll give you this,'" Freese said. "It was a tough situation to handle. The waiting, it challenges your heart, sitting around while guys are out playing."
With the dust now settled, Freese believes he's found a good fit with the Pirates, and the Bucs are happy to have him on board.
"Obviously a seasoned postseason guy, plays a great third base. Excited to have him," right-hander Gerrit Cole said. "Always excited to get extra help wherever we can get it."
Freese will play third base every day until Jung Ho Kang is healthy. When Kang returns in mid-to-late April, Freese will be a backup corner infielder, relieving Kang at third and forming a first-base platoon with John Jaso.
"When [Kang] gets back, he'll be the third baseman. And I'm all for it," Freese said. "There's going to be ABs for me. I'm going to do whatever's asked [of] me. I know it could be a different role that I'm not used to. To be on a winning club, that was my main objective."
An everyday third baseman most of his career, Freese has played 21 innings at first base in the Majors. But he brought a first baseman's glove to camp, and he's prepared to learn the position.
"Whatever my role is, I'm here to do that," he said. "If it's to play third, play first, pinch-hit, I'm all for it."
Freese spent the entire month of January working out with former Cardinals teammates Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter across the state in Jupiter, Fla. He returned home to St. Louis in February, staying in shape and waiting for a call.
"To see where this organization has come the last four or five years, that's special. I know they have unfinished business," Freese said. "I've had that a few times. I know what that feels like. To join this type of team … it's going to be a good deal."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.