David Freese is revered in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse and has a growing list of clutch moments since joining the team last August, but his career is one that’s etched in St. Louis Cardinals lore.
He last played for his hometown team in 2013, but Freese is treated to rousing applause and a standing ovation during each return to Busch Stadium. And though the veteran infielder only spent 2.5 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, their fans have a similar appreciation for Freese.
He was in the Dodgers’ lineup on Friday night, starting at first base and batting sixth. A big first inning brought Freese to the plate in the first inning of the series opener.
The Pirates played his old walk-up song — “Stinkfist” by Tool — and splashed a thank you message on the PNC Park scoreboard.
The 36-year-old proceeded to hit a grand slam on a full count. Freese later expressed his appreciation for the Pirates’ kindness and admitted hearing his walk-up song provided extra motivation, as seen on SportsNet LA
“I loved it here, I really did. I loved the fans, I loved playing at this park. Obviously everybody around the stadium is great. They played my walk-up song, maybe that’s why I was pumped. That fired me up, that was cool.”
Freese finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. The grand slam was his first since May 17, 2013, for the Cardinals.
While Freese once carried St. Louis to a World Series win, he’s now demonstrated remarkable flexibility and professionalism in filling a role off the bench for the Dodgers. Freese’s starts and opportunities to pinch-hit rely heavily on pitching matchups.
The Dodgers have run into a recent stretch of opponents using an opener, which amounted to Freese coming off the bench and finishing a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, and his start against the Pirates.
He last started a game when the Dodgers faced the San Diego Padres on May 15. Overall, the 36-year-old has started 18 of his 36 games played this season. Freese has admitted the role has required an adjustment but he remains committed to being prepared whenever called upon.