Jansen gets save in L.A. by retiring Freeman

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    Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer

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      ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for MLB.com from 2012 to 2016.

LOS ANGELES — Kenley Jansen entered Tuesday’s ninth inning to close out a game from Dodger Stadium as a member of the Atlanta Braves. His last out was Freddie Freeman, now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jansen couldn’t help but smile at the thought.

“That’s weird as hell,” Jansen said after the Braves’ 3-1 victory, which came after his 186th career regular-season save from Dodger Stadium. “I’ve met that guy so many time in all those Braves series. Now it’s vice versa. Yeah, it’s crazy, man. It’s amazing how crazy the game is right now. It’s still fun. “

Jansen was keen to return to Dodgers this offseason. Freeman had also planned to return to Braves. However, things changed quickly after the lockout was lifted in March.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos reportedly turned down an ultimatum from Freeman’s representation and instead traded for Matt Olson, prompting the Dodgers to sign Freeman to a six-year, $162 million contract on March 16. The deal allowed the Dodgers to surpass the fourth tier luxury tax threshold. Jansen was forced to reduce his salary to make the deal work. But the Braves gave Jansen a one-year, $16 million offer and needed a quick answer, prompting Jansen to spurn the Dodgers to join the team he grew up rooting for in Curacao on March 18. A section of the sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd initially cheered Jansen as he entered the bullpen from right field, but most people who remained soon stood up and clapped. The reaction was mixed and somewhat subdued with Jansen’s signature entrance song, “California Love,” not being heard from the speakers.

” “It’s all business now,” Jansen stated. “I’m happy to help my team win. That’s what I did. It’s okay. There are no hard feelings. They will be my best friend. They will always be in my heart. “

Jansen was celebrated with a video tribute minutes before Monday’s first pitch, and he then strolled onto the field with his wife and two of his kids to receive mementos from his first career save from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, third baseman Justin Turner and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

The 34-year-old right-hander admitted that his adrenaline would be abnormally high for his first game against his longtime teammates, but he was able to keep emotions in check when he ultimately toed the rubber on Tuesday, retiring Will Smith, Mookie Betts and Freeman in order.

Jansen is working to keep his focus.

” “I’m just locked down — right here and right now,” he said. It helps me. Be present in the moment. Be present in the moment. Even though this moment was full of emotions, it was one that I enjoyed. It was a pleasure to be out there. “

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