Dodgers' Freddie Freeman Sobs At Podium ... In Return To Atlanta

UPDATE

4:18 PM PT -- It's been a couple hours since Freeman's press conference, but he's still very emotional ... he just burst out into tears while accepting his World Series ring on the field at Truist Park.

UPDATE

Dodgers superstar Freddie Freeman was so overcome with emotion in his first time back in Atlanta since he left the city this offseason, he sobbed at the podium in front of a throng of reporters.

The first baseman -- who spent his entire career in ATL and helped the Braves win a World Series last season before leaving in free agency -- was a wreck on Friday afternoon while trying to talk about what his time in Atlanta meant to him.

As media members peppered him with questions before the Dodgers took on his former Braves team at Truist Park ... he needed a huge towel to wipe away snot and tears.

In fact, Freddie was so overwhelmed by the moment, he initially had to walk out of the press conference to gather himself before beginning.

"It's hard to put into words," he said. "Just happy to be back."

Freeman -- who played in Atlanta for 12 years -- is considered one of the greatest Braves of all time ... but following failed contract talks this past offseason, he bolted for Los Angeles, signing a six-year, $162-million deal with the Dodgers.

Freddie's been a star for his new squad -- already piling up 8 home runs with a .303 batting average ... but it's clear, at least part of his heart and soul still remains in Georgia.

Originally Published -- 2:24 PM PT

Boston Red Sox Groundskeeper's Famous Dog Dies ... Fenway Park Staple

Awful news out of Red Sox nation ... Drago -- the German shepherd who became famous for roaming the field at Fenway Park over the past few years -- has died at 10 years old.

The pup's owner, Red Sox head groundskeeper Dave Mellor, mourned the passing in a message to the Associated Press this week.

"I was blessed he was in my life as he saved my life, changed my life, inspired me, and gave hope to my life in ways I hadn't had in decades and didn’t know were possible,” Mellor said. "I am absolutely heartbroken."

Mellor, a die-hard Red Sox fan and a former star high school pitching prospect, got Drago back in 2014 in order to help deal with the PTSD he was suffering from after he was involved in two horrific car crashes earlier in his life.

The two quickly became inseparable -- and Drago soon joined Mellor at his job tending to the grounds at Fenway Park, where the dog quickly became beloved by Red Sox players, staffers and fans.

Sadly, Drago suffered a stroke before Boston hosted the Oakland Athletics last week, and died two days later.

The Red Sox org. showed a heartfelt message on the video board at the ballpark last Friday when the team played the St. Louis Cardinals ... saying that Drago was a companion who provided countless memories over the years.

"We send love and support to his family, honor his service and recognize a life well-lived," the Sox's tribute read. "We will miss you, Drago.”

RIP.

Ex-MLB Pitcher Kyle Farnsworth Reveals Insanely Jacked Physique ... I'm A Bodybuilder Now!

Kyle Farnsworth has found a second career ... the ex-MLB pitcher fell in love with bodybuilding, and is absolutely jacked now!!

The 46-year-old former New York Yankees pitcher -- who spent 16 seasons in the big leagues -- showed off his incredible physique on social media Tuesday.

Kyle posted a shirtless photo of him in a mirror ... showing off his massive arms, legs and chest, and, it's vastly different from what he looked like when he was a pitcher.

"Very rare gym bathroom selfie," Kyle wrote on Twitter. "4 days out to my first bodybuilding competition. Classic Physique. These past few days have been fun with no carbs!"

Farnsworth's first competition will be this Saturday, June 25 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando ... and the ex-reliever is pumped about it.

"Very excited to be a part of the Sheru Classic and to see what I can do," Kyle said on Instagram a few weeks ago. "I will be competing in the Novice Classic Physique class."

"I have always wanted to do one and it's never too old to start," he added. "When you are a competitor, you have to find things to compete in."

Pittsburgh Pirates Staffers Can't Corral Loose Squirrel On Field ... Hilarious Video

Three Pittsburgh Pirates staffers looked more like "The Three Stooges" on Monday night ... because they failed to corral a squirrel that had gotten loose in the outfield during a game -- and it was comical.

The little critter jetted out into left field during the second inning of the Buccos' game against the Chicago Cubs ... and a short time later, Pirates officials apparently thought it'd be good to send three guys out with a bucket, a towel and a net to get it away from players.

Turns out ... that was not a great idea.

Check out video from the game's broadcast, the trio hilariously tried everything they could to capture the squirrel -- but the animal juked them at every turn.

Eventually, the squirrel grew tired of making the guys look silly -- and bolted through a fence.

The scene was so hysterical, the MLB even had some fun with it ... tweeting out, "sandy cheeks wildin."

The Pirates, though, didn't let the failed efforts to capture the squirrel dampen their night ... they got a huge game from some star rookies, and beat the Cubs easily, 12-1.

Mets' Darwyn Encarnacion Ex-Minor Leaguer Dead At 21 ... After Horrific Car Crash

Former New York Mets prospect Darwyn Encarnacion died following a horrific car crash in the Dominican Republic this week.

He was just 21 years old.

According to MLB insider Hector Gomez, Encarnacion was driving an SUV on Wednesday when it tumbled off a bridge and crashed into a ditch below it.

The former outfielder, according to multiple reports, had somehow survived the initial impact, but died at a local hospital a short time later.

A Mets academy executive in the Dominican Republic confirmed Encarnacion's tragic passing to Gomez ... saying, "He was a great human being, very disciplined, respectful and polite. He played with us for just one year, in 2019. He was even using his scholarship that the team gave him when he signed and was currently studying at university."

Encarnacion signed a minor league contract with the Mets in March 2019 ... and, a few months later, played for their Dominican Summer League team.

He logged 113 at-bats in 35 games ... tallying one home run, 10 steals and a .248 batting average. He was eventually released by the team in Oct. 2020.

RIP

MLB Ump Nate Tomlinson Struck In Face By Trout's Broken Bat ... Leaves Game Bloodied

Scary moment on the MLB diamond Tuesday ... an MLB ump was struck near his eye by a shattered bat -- but somehow, it appears the official is going to be OK.

The frightening scene happened in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' game against the Angels in L.A., when Mike Trout was at the dish looking to bring the Halos back from a 2-0 deficit.

On a 3-2 count, Trout smacked a ball so hard, his bat shattered ... and a large piece of the splintered lumber hit home plate ump Nate Tomlinson right in the face.

You can see in video from the game's broadcast, Tomlinson was nearly stabbed in the eyeball by the bat's jagged edge, and he immediately crumpled to the ground.

Trainers raced to Tomlinson's aid, and video shows he was bleeding from several areas of his head.

Tomlinson was forced to leave the game -- but, fortunately, he walked off under his own power. Second base umpire Laz Diaz eventually filled in for Tomlinson for the last few outs of the game.

Trout, who ultimately singled on the play, was left stunned by the scene. His Angels would go on to lose the game, 2-0.

Get well soon, Nate.

Chris Rock Let's Play Ball ... With Lake Bell

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
TMZ.com

Chris Rock is in good company these days, taking in a baseball game with Lake Bell.

The comedian and actress were in a box together Monday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, watching a Cardinals game. They were spotted by eagle-eyed fans, who got them on camera together at different points in the evening ... including in this video, obtained by TMZ.

No signs of PDA, but they were definitely sitting together ... and seemed interested in maintaining a relatively low profile. We're told Chris did an on-camera interview at one point, and LB stepped away so she wouldn't be seen in the shot.

Chris has been performing comedy shows there lately, and it seems Lake is along for the ride. They're both single, and relatively fresh off of long-term marriages in recent years.

3/27/22
TAKIN' NO DISRESPECT
ABC

It's been about 3 months since CR got smacked across the face by Will Smith, and by all accounts ... he's doing just fine. Not only has he continued to work, but he now seems to have a new lady friend (maybe).

Happier times are on the horizon, it seems.

Reds' Joey Votto Makes TikTok With Fan At Game ... Hits 'The Griddy!!!'

MLB star Joey Votto made a fan's day at the ballpark on Monday -- by fulfilling her request to create a TikTok video!!!

The adorable scene went down just before Votto's Cincinnati Reds played the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix ... when a young fan's sign caught the attention of the 38-year-old first baseman.

Waiting for your permission to load TikTok Post.

"Joey Votto," the girl's sign read, "will you make a TikTok with me?"

Votto, a fan favorite and a budding TikTok star himself, was all-in on the idea ... and immediately went to work with the fan -- a 12-year-old from Phoenix.

The two eventually had the idea to hit "The Griddy" -- a dance move popularized by NFL stars Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase -- and, check out the footage, it clearly came out awesome.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Joey did the dance well, but the girl clearly stole the show ... it certainly looked like she had some experience hitting it before!!

No word on how the TikTok is doing on the site -- but it appeared to give Votto's Reds some good juju regardless ... 'cause they went on to beat the D-Backs, 5-4.

Joe Maddon Got Mohawk To Bust Angels' Slump ... But Fired Before Team Could See

Joe Maddon chopped his hair into a mohawk in an effort to try and break the Angels' losing skid earlier this month -- but his team never got to see it ... because he was fired before he could show it off.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reported the somber story as part of a bigger piece on the Angels that aired before L.A.'s game against the New York Mets on Sunday night.

In the report, Kurkjian said the 68-year-old manager got the new 'do following the Halos' 12th straight loss on June 6 ... in an effort to try to bring better juju to his floundering squad.

The problem? Angels brass fired him unexpectedly -- and none of his team could see it.

Maddon had been hired by the Angels prior to the 2020 season. He piled up a 130-148 record in his two-plus seasons with the team.

The Angels are 2-4 since his firing.

Ex-Dodgers Star Steve Sax Son John 1 of 5 U.S. Marines Killed ... In Training Flight Crash

Captain John J. Sax, son of Dodgers great Steve Sax, was one of five U.S. Marines killed when their aircraft went down during a training exercise in southern California on Wednesday.

He was 33 years old.

The cause of the accident, which occurred about 150 miles from San Diego, is still under investigation.

John, who served the corp. for over five years and was awarded The National Defense Service Medal, was identified as one of the occupants on board the aircraft at the time of the fatal crash. His father confirmed the tragic news in a statement on Saturday.

"It is with complete devastation that I announce that my precious son, Johnny was one of the five US Marines that perished on Wednesday, June 8, in the Osprey Military crash near San Diego," Steve said to CBSLA-TV.

"For those of you that knew Johnny, you saw his huge smile, bright light, his love for his family, the Marines, the joy of flying airplanes and defending our country! He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country."

Steve, 62, won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1982 and the Silver Slugger award in 1986.

Sax, who played eight seasons with the Dodgers (he also spent time with the Yankees, White Sox and A's), made five All Star teams. He also won two world championships with Los Angeles ... in 1981 and 1988.

Sax retired in 1994.

Major League Baseball released a statement on the passing of Steve's son ... saying, "Today we remember the lives of John Sax, the son of former All-Star Steve, and four fellow Marines of the Purple Fox family who perished in a tragic aircraft accident."

"With gratitude for their service to our country, we send our deepest condolences to their families and friends."

R.I.P. to all the Marines.

Mike Scioscia No Chance I Manage Angels Again ... 'I'm Relaxing Now'

NOT MY PROBLEM
TMZSports.com

There's absolutely no way Mike Scioscia returns to manage the Angels following Joe Maddon's firing ... the former Halos coach tells TMZ Sports he's officially done with that part of his life.

The 63-year-old, who coached L.A. from 2000 to 2018 -- winning one World Series -- told us out at LAX that even though his ex-team is looking for another manager after canning Maddon this week, he won't be a candidate.

"No, man," he said with a laugh. "No, I'm relaxing now. I'm retired."

Scioscia is still hanging around the game -- he coached the U.S. Olympics team to a silver medal in Tokyo last year -- and he's slated to be a manager for one of the teams in the All-Star Futures Game next month.

He made it clear, though, dabbling here and there on the end of the dugout bench is as far as he'll go these days.

"I've done my time," he said. "I loved it. But now, I'm in a little different scenario."

As for the current Angels, Scioscia seems confident they'll pull out of the funk that ultimately led to Maddon's firing ... telling us as long their pitching gets going, "they're going to make a run."

Dodgers' Tyler Anderson Hot Mic Catches Pitcher Cussin' ... 'F***!!!'

Earmuffs, kids!!!

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson dropped a massive F-bomb during a game on Thursday that was so loud, it was actually captured on a hot mic at the stadium.

Anderson let the obscenity fly in the fourth inning of L.A.'s game against the White Sox in Chicago, after throwing his fourth ball to Jose Abreu.

The pitch, on a 3-2 count, just barely missed ... but Anderson still clearly hated it.

"F***!!!!" he screamed.

The game's broadcasters had fun with the moment ... with one saying, "There was something that he yelled when he delivered that ball and I'm thinking, you're a very young man, close your headset. You don't want to hear that."

Anderson ended up being pulled from the game a few batters later -- not because of cussin', but rather because he was just ineffective -- but it all still could end up OK for him.

The Dodgers are currently up 6-5, meaning Anderson's record can't take an L from here.

L.A. Angels Play Nickelback Songs To Try To End Losing Skid ... Idea Fails

Not even Chad Kroeger's sweet vocals were enough to pull the Angels out of their losing skid ... 'cause despite playing Nickelback songs on repeat in L.A. on Wednesday to try to get a win -- the team still lost.

Every Angels batter walked out to a different Nickelback tune in their game against Boston in an effort to mix up the mojo amid a 13-game losing streak ... and the idea had initial promise.

With Shohei Ohtani coming out to "Photograph" and Jo Adell strutting to the dish to "Rockstar" -- the team held up strong against the Red Sox for most of the game.

Sadly for L.A., the Nickelback theme didn't work ... and Boston ultimately pulled out the win, 1-0 -- handing the Angels their 14th consecutive loss.

Afterward, interim manager Phil Nevin -- who replaced the newly fired Joe Maddon this week -- said he had no clue where the idea started, but he was in favor of it.

"I like it. I like Nickelback," the 51-year-old said. "The entire game I've got songs in my head I can't stop singing."

L.A. plays next Thursday night ... no word yet if they'll turn to Nickelback again to try to break the streak.

L.A. Angels Fire Joe Maddon ... Amid Losing Skid

Stunning news in the MLB ... the L.A. Angels have just fired Joe Maddon after hiring him less than three years ago.

The team announced the move Tuesday afternoon ... canning the 68-year-old as the Angels are currently mired in a 12-game losing streak.

The org. has named Phil Nevin manager in the interim.

Despite the team's skid of consecutive losses, most figured Maddon would at least make it through the year -- given his track record (he's a 3-time Manager of the Year and two-time World Series Champ) and the fact that the team just signed him before the 2020 season.

But, L.A. execs clearly believed the squad was underachieving ... especially with two of the best players in baseball in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the roster.

And, it certainly didn't help Maddon's case that he was getting snippy with reporters lately -- becoming visibly upset with some following the team's loss to the Red Sox on Monday night.

The Angels are currently 8.5 games back of the first-place Houston Astros in the A.L. West. They play next on Tuesday night against the Red Sox.

Tampa Bay Rays 5 Pitchers Ditch LGBT Pride Logo ... Cite Faith Concerns

Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear the Gay Pride logo on their uniforms this weekend -- saying their religious beliefs wouldn't allow it, but also saying they accept everyone.

The players are all pitchers, and there's 5 of them -- Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson. On Saturday, during the team's Pride Night celebration, they reportedly ditched the custom jerseys/hats featuring rainbow-colored lettering and instead opted for standard unis.

The reason ... "faith-based" purposes. Adam explained ... "So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here."

He adds, "But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe -- not that they look down on anybody or think differently -- it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different."

Manager Kevin Cash said the players' decision had sparked some conversation in the clubhouse, but it doesn't sound like things have gotten heated ... and that the team understands.

Adam concluded ... "It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here."

The team was certainly in support of hyping the fact that it was Pride Night, as they've even changed their official logo on social media to reflect the month (as do many companies).

Unclear what fallout, if any, may come from this.

Yankees' Nestor Cortes Jim Kaat Apologized To Me ... For 'Nestor The Molester' Comment

UPDATE

3:39 PM PT -- Cortes just revealed Kaat gave him a call following his comment on Thursday, and apologized for the remark.

UPDATE

The pitcher, though, said on Twitter Kaat "didn't need to" issue the mea culpa.

UPDATE

"We all make mistakes and [I] feel 100% there was no malice intended," Cortes said. "I plan on lifting him up with this tweet and I hope others do too. No sweat here Jim!"

Longtime MLB announcer Jim Kaat has found himself embroiled in controversy yet again ... this time, it's because he referred to New York Yankees star Nestor Cortes as "Nestor the Molester" during a broadcast.

83-year-old Kaat was providing color commentary for the Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins game on Thursday afternoon ... when he tried to offer some on-air praise to Cortes, who was pitching against the L.A. Angels in a game in New York at the same time.

Kaat made a reference to Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer and said, "That favorite pitcher, being kind of like Devin Smeltzer, 'Nestor the Molester!'"

"Nestor Cortes," Kaat added. "Man, he is fun to watch."

The comment was immediately hit with raised eyebrows on social media ... and while Kaat didn't address it again on-air, a Twins official told the Associated Press the team did speak with the Hall of Famer about the matter following the game.

"Obviously, we take these matters seriously and, like in all cases, will handle this internally and privately," Twins vice president of communications and content Dustin Morse said, before adding, "Jim meant no ill will."

Cortes, meanwhile, was also asked about the comment ... but he told the AP he was not offended.

"I'm sure, you know, he didn't really mean it," the left-handed pitcher said, "and people make mistakes, but it didn't offend me at all."

This is the second time in less than a year Kaat has faced backlash for an on-air remark ... back in October, he was forced to apologize for making a slavery reference during a Yoan Moncada at-bat in an Astros vs. White Sox playoff game.

Kaat -- a former Twins pitcher who was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame last year -- has been broadcasting games for decades.

Originally Published -- 6:14 AM PT

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!