Braves' Hart says Freeman may not return by August

The Braves have no shortage of problems going into the second half of the season, most stemming from continuing bullpen problems and the season-ending injury to closer Jason Grilli. But the team's offense also has struggled with the absence of first baseman Freddie Freeman (wrist injury) and the first baseman may not be back any time soon.

The Braves had hoped Freeman would return immediately after the All-Star break. But John Hart, the president of baseball operations, said: "It’s more serious than we expected. I’m hoping he’ll be back before the first of August but he may not be. He’s working hard to get back but it’s a slow-healing injury and it still gives him pain when he swings. He dinged it, played four or five days with it, and we have him a few days off. We gave him an injection and thought he would be back in two or three days but it was no better. We did further tests and found it was more serious than we thought."

The comments came during part of a larger Q-and-A I did with Hart that will run online Thursday and in Friday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Freeman, who has a bone bruise in his right wrist, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, when the Braves' resume the season with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. He went on the disabled list retroactive to June 18 and has missed 23 games. If Hart is correct, he will miss at least two more weeks.

Assistant general manager John Coppolella said last week, "The hope is that he’s back the second half of the season, but it’s kind of a day-to-day thing. We can’t say for certain. I don’t see it going past the trade deadline (July 31). I could see it being as early as right after the break, the first game. I think it’s going to be somewhere in that two-week window. That’d be my guess."