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Salt Lake Bees: Freese stops by before return to Angels

Published May 20, 2014 10:42 am

PCL baseball • Hometown Cardinals traded him after he was World Series MVP.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If you don't think professional sports is cold-blooded, talk to David Freese.

He'll tell you all about it.

As a member of his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, Freese was the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 World Series.

"It changed my life completely," he said. "It was awesome. St. Louis is a great city and, to do it there, was just amazing. I'll never forget it, obviously."

Two years later, however, Freese was traded.

His gigantic contribution to the history of the storied franchise was reduced to a feel-good footnote when the Cardinals shipped him to the Los Angeles Angels.

Freese started this season in L.A. before suffering a broken finger on May 2. Over the weekend, he was sent to Salt Lake on a rehab assignment.

On Monday night at Smith's Ballpark, Freese went 1-for-4 with a solo homer and walk in Albuquerque's 15-9 win over the Bees. He is expected to quickly return to the Angels, perhaps as soon as Tuesday.

"We'll make out our report tonight," Bees manager Keith Johnson said, "and see what the big club wants to do."

Freese was sent to Salt Lake two weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture on his right hand during a 5-2 loss to Texas.

"The big thing is him finding a level of comfort throwing the ball — reaching into his glove and grabbing the ball," Johnson said. "Swinging the bat hasn't been an issue. He's swinging the bat with vigor."

According to Johnson, Freese has been an outstanding example for the young players in the Bees' clubhouse.

"He goes about his business the right way," Johnson explained. "He has a real good feel for his game — what he's trying to accomplish out there — and he works at it every day."

The signature moment of Freese's career came in the 2011 World Series between the Cardinals and Rangers.

In Game 6, he tied the score with a two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth inning. St. Louis prevailed on his walk-off homer in the 11th.

Freese also had a two-run double in the Cards' 6-2 victory in Game 7

Hello, Los Angeles.

On Nov. 22, 2013, St. Louis traded Fernando Salas and Freese to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

"I knew it was a possibility," Freese said. "I know it's a business. I knew the Angels were a team I could potentially be traded to and that excited me.

"Growing up in St. Louis and playing for the Cardinals was a special time. But they turned the page and, when I found out I was with the Angels, I was pumped. ... Change isn't always bad."

In Los Angeles, Freese joined a team already featuring Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton. Pujols, of course, played in St. Louis before signing with the Angels in 2012.

"It was awesome," Freese said. "Being a Cardinal, you're used to that. They do good job of bringing in top-notch talent. Then you walk in the Angels' clubhouse and they do the same stuff."

Asked about his reunion with Pujols, Freese smiled.

"It was comforting to have Albert there," he said. "I've known him for a long time."

Freese looks forward to his return to the Angels who, prior to Monday night, had won five of their last six games.

"I'll just do what I do — compete — and jump back into that lineup," Freese said. —

Storylines • Albuquerque 15, Salt Lake 9

R Albuquerque batters blasts six home runs during a 15-9 victory over the Salt Lake Bees.

• Down on an rehab assignment, David Freese goes 1-for-4 with a solo homer and walk.

• Salt Lake loses for the 14th time in the last 15 games and drops to 14-31 this season. —

Bees, Angels extend affiliation through 2016

The Salt Lake Bees have extended their affiliation with the Los Angeles Angels through 2016, the teams announced Monday.

"We have enjoyed our longstanding relationship with Salt Lake and are thrilled to announce an extension," said Scott Servais, the Angels' assistant general manager and head of scouting and player development. "The City of Salt Lake and employees of the franchise continue to provide a first-class venue and experience for baseball fans."

The Angels have been the parent club of the Bees since 2001.

In the last 14 seasons, Salt Lake has compiled a record of 971-941, won five division championships and made two trips to the Pacific Coast League finals.

The Bees are celebrating the franchise's 20th anniversary this season. They have attracted more than 10 million fans to Smith's Ballpark.