Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland Ready for 2017 Coors Field Debut
A baseball journey that began in the Denver little leagues will continue its evolution for Kyle Freeland on Friday at Coors Field when he takes the mound for the Colorado Rockies in their home opener.
Freeland will make his Major League debut for the Rockies against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team many pick to be the favorite to win the National League West. An Opening Day start against a tough division rival? It doesn’t seem to faze the 23-year-old southpaw.
"“Doesn’t matter if it’s Double-A, rookie ball, Single-A or your debut, you got to go out there and think it’s just another game and execute your pitches,” Freeland said on a conference call with Denver media."
For a Denver native who grew up going to games at Coors Field, Freeland has plenty of memories of the ballpark. This will, however, be Freeland’s first experience with Opening Day in LoDo.
"“No opening days,” Freeland said. “We went to a lot of games as I was growing up. I remember parking downtown with my family and walking to the games. The sights, the smells, the sounds of walking into the stadium. You get to the concourse and you walk out and you see the field and you think it’s the biggest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. Those are the memories that really stick with me.”"
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Freeland will be the second Rockies rookie to make his Major League debut on consecutive days to start the 2017 campaign. Joining Antonio Senzatela in the rotation, Colorado’s rotation is one of the youngest (and least experienced) in the Majors at 24.8 years old.
But MLB experience be damned, Friday is about Freeland and a hometown feel-good story. Drafted eighth overall in the 2014 draft, it’s been a quick ascension for Freeland, who knows that, yes, pitching at Coors Field is different in the eyes of many. However, he’s breaking it down into its simplest form.
"“I’ve actually had the same thought with it [altitude] growing up in Colorado,” Freeland said. “You still have to execute pitches. You still have to get the ball on the ground and get outs. I think if you have that mentality [while] pitching at Coors Field, you’re going to have success, but I think people get away from it where sometimes they get a little scared or timid in the fact that the ball flies a little bit there. You still have to go out there every day and execute pitches down in the zone.”"
Freeland has been learning while he’s been in Milwaukee with the team, watching Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood prepare for their starts. He’s been taking notes on the team’s “veteran pitchers” and their routines.
"“I’ve been soaking everything in, as much as I can,” Freeland said. “I’ve been asking questions and learning the ropes. It’s been fun. Learning these things in this atmosphere is something not a lot of people get to do.”"
Preparation or not, stepping on the mound on Friday with a sellout crowd at Coors Field will bring emotions. Freeland has already had time to get through the first wave of emotions when he heard he made the team and was getting the Friday start.
"“I just kind of smiled and was extremely happy,” Freeland said about when he was told he would start Colorado’s home opener. “It’s something that’s very rare and doesn’t happen very often in this game. It was a ton of emotions hearing that I would be in the home opener for my hometown."
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"“It’s a rare opportunity to have and I’m very grateful for it. The emotions haven’t really started hitting too big yet but I’m sure Friday they’ll hit hard. It’s a cool thing to be able to do.”"