Running on empty, Freeman digs deep for 4 hits

New to parenthood, Braves' first baseman lifts average above .300 despite fatigue

Running on empty, Freeman digs deep for 4 hits

NEW YORK -- There will be stories for Freddie Freeman to tell his son someday.

Yeah, kid, you cried so much you kept dad up all night. And I still got on a plane, showed up at Citi Field and got four hits.

"Hopefully, I have some other cool games I can tell him about," Freeman said late Monday night, enjoying the Braves' 7-3 win over the Mets but realizing that what he really needed was a good night's sleep.

Or maybe he didn't need it.

Freeman had barely slept since Sept. 14, the day his wife Chelsea went into labor before delivering Frederick Charles Freeman II, the couple's first child. He'd slept maybe 8-10 hours total, he guessed, but he kept hitting as if he was wide awake.

Freeman's solo homer

The 4-for-5 night moved Freeman to 7-for-12 since Frederick was born and raised his average over .300 (to .302) for the first time since Opening Day. It's been a long climb since Freeman was hitting .163 15 games into the season, but it's easy to climb when you get hits every night.

Freeman has done just that, with a hitting streak that now sits at 23 games and an on-base streak that has reached 39 games.

Not that either one of those streaks has Freeman concerned.

Freeman's two-run double

"I've got a kid and a wife," Freeman said. "A hitting streak is the last thing on my mind. If it ends, I'll start a new one. Hopefully it doesn't end here."

It didn't end Monday, a day when Freeman had a kid, a wife and probably some sleep on his mind. He grounded out in the first inning against Noah Syndergaard and then collected four straight hits -- a home run in the third, a double in the fourth and singles in the seventh and eighth.

"The guy's an animal," manager Brian Snitker said. "He can just hit."

Freeman has always hit well against the Mets, and these four hits gave him a .397 average (27-for-68) against New York this season.

What made this game different was the same thing that has made the rest of Freeman's life different since last week. He and Chelsea had tried to plan for the baby to show up after the season, but Frederick didn't cooperate.

Freeman was with his wife for the birth on Thursday and skipped Friday's game against the Nationals to stay with her. He returned on Saturday and got a hit, then came back on Sunday and got two more.

When the Braves flew to New York after Sunday's game, Freeman stayed behind in Atlanta so he could take Chelsea and Frederick home from the hospital.

"He was screaming pretty much the whole night," Freeman said. "We got him to stop crying at 5 or 6 a.m., but I had to go to the airport two hours later. It was probably one of the toughest moments so far, having to leave."

Fortunately, after the Braves spend this week on the road, they'll be home for the final week of the season.

No matter what, Freeman won't be complaining. Not about the schedule. Not about anything.

"Every time I feel tired, I think of my wife and what she went through," Freeman said. "Every time I want to say my body hurts, I think I can't say that anymore."

And if Freeman wanted to tell his manager that having a newborn meant he had no sleep, Snitker had an answer.

"Welcome to parenthood," Snitker said. "Get used to it. But I told him, 'You're going to love baseball so much more now.'"

And when he has a game like Monday's, Freeman knows he'll eventually be able to talk about it with his son.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.