The Atlanta Braves travel to Chicago this weekend to start a three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. With Max Fried coming back from injury, the Braves will also see another familiar face on the field this weekend at Wrigley, this time in the opposite dugout as Fried faces former Brave and All-Star Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Swanson, who was with the Braves organization from 2016 to 2022, was part of Atlanta's 2021 team that won the world series and was named an All-Star and Gold Glove Award recipient in 2022. A free agent after the 2022 season, Swanson signed with the Chicago Cubs back in December on a seven-year, $177 million deal. In his first season with the Cubs, was named to his second MLB All-Star appearance.
This weekend will mark the first time he will play against his former team, with the Cubs coming to Atlanta for another three-game series towards the end of the regular season in September. Prior to Friday's game, Swanson was interviewed by reporters and took the time to answer questions about his former teammates.
"Yeah, I mean it's obviously good to be able to see your friends. You know we still keep in touch quite a bit, but I think if they know me the competitions ahead of me all come out pretty quick," Swanson said when asked about the emotions of facing his former teammates. "You know there's obviously a lot of good memories and times over there but now on to new things and like I said, my competitive juices will for sure be flown today."
Swanson was also asked if the feeling of being missed by his old team runs through him as the Cubs prepare to host the Braves this weekend.
"No, I definitely don't have time for that," Swanson said in a laughing manner. "They obviously have, you know, so many good players, and you know one would be silly to think that one player makes a difference over there because you know, there's just so many good players over there that want things to go well. So you know, at the end of the day, I still have my friendships with people over there, but you know, the whole point about that is if I'm spending time thinking about that then I'm not doing my job here."
When asked who from the Braves organization he has kept up with the most, Swanson mentioned a handful of Braves players, including Austin Riley, Max Fried, Travis d'Arnaud, and Ozzie Albies.
"I spent what, six, seven years with those guys," Swanson said. "A lot of times, like, coming through the trenches together, it's definitely a bond that just doesn't go away when you're in a different city and things of that nature.
When talking about living in the South, Swanson mentioned that he missed being close to family and friends, but also said that he still reps Atlanta for things outside of baseball, including his love of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta's rap music scene.
When asked if playing against his former team adds to the intensity of the series, Swanson replied, "It's kind of a tough balance to find, right? Because when you almost want to like to try harder, especially in this game things don't necessarily work out the same. So obviously your focus is there. Which kind of I guess can create a little bit more good with these two you're asking about, but I think that we know this is a really good test for our group."
He continued, "We have a lot of belief in our guys in this team and to be able to have a challenge over the next three days would be good for us, and I think it would just help us continue to push us forward in the right way."
When asked what it will be like facing Fried in his return on the mound, Swanson said "We're gonna find out," with a laugh.
Friday's series opener is scheduled to begin at 2:20 PM EST in Chicago.