Freddie Freeman in his first starting lineup with the Dodgers bats second, a role he’s become more accustomed to in the last two years. Freeman starts at first base against the Rockies on Friday afternoon at Coors Field in Denver.
Freeman had been a middle-of-the-order hitter practically his entire career, with over two-thirds of his starts batting third. But he batted second for a good chunk of the 2020 season with the Braves and throughout their playoff run that year, when the designated hitter was used in the National League. In 2021, Freeman went back to batting third until leadoff man Ronald Acuña Jr. got hurt, then shifted back to second.
This spring with the Dodgers, Freeman batted second in eight of his nine games, putting a left-handed bat between right-handers Mookie Betts at leadoff and Trea Turner batting third. The Los Angeles lineup is loaded.
“There are a lot of All-Stars sitting down that lineup, but you’ve still got to go out and play,” Freeman said on March 18, when introduced after signing his six-year, $162 million contract with the Dodgers. “We do have a really talented roster and lineup, so it should be fun. Hopefully we score a lot of runs because we’ve got the guys to be able to do it.”
Freeman in his career has three hits, including two doubles in 13 at-bats against Kyle Freeland, though the two haven’t faced each other since 2019.
Chris Taylor started at six positions in 2021, and on Friday starts in left field, where he figures to see most of his time in the early part of the season after offseason elbow surgery in November.
|3B||McMahon (L)||3B||Muncy (L)|
“The driver is CT coming back off surgery, to not put him in a position where he’s got to play with arm angles, from the outfield to then kind of shorten his stroke [in the infield] and throw from different angles,” manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “To make sure that he gets a 100-percent bill of health, then we’ll kind of move him around more.”
Gavin Lux starts at second base, the second straight opening day at Coors Field that he’s done so. Lux gets the call against the southpaw Freeland, despite hitting just .168/.256/.243, a 42 wRC+ in 121 career plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.
This is the seventh opening day start for Justin Turner, whose first game with the Dodgers in 2014 was a start at second base in Sydney, Australia. His next five opening day starts came at third base, but today Turner is the starting designated hitter, a spot the Dodgers figure to rotate players in and out of this season. Max Muncy starts at third base.