Braves’ Freeman back at first base for series opener vs. Nationals

Freddie Freeman fields at ground ball at third base against the Astros in the second inning Tuesday in his first game at third base since rookie ball in 2007. He was back in the lineup at his familiar first-base position Thursday for a series opener at Washington. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Freddie Freeman fields at ground ball at third base against the Astros in the second inning Tuesday in his first game at third base since rookie ball in 2007. He was back in the lineup at his familiar first-base position Thursday for a series opener at Washington. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — After playing two games at third base, Braves slugger Freddie Freeman was in the lineup at his familiar first-base position for Thursday’s series opener against the Nationals.

No, the Braves haven’t already pulled the plug on the grand experiment of having Freeman play third base so Matt Adams could stay in the lineup at first base. Manager Brian Snitker said he just wanted to give a rest day of sorts to Freeman, who’s only been off the disabled list since Tuesday after missing seven weeks with a fractured wrist and playing just two minor league rehab games.

It didn’t hurt that the Nationals had a left-hander (Gio Gonzalez) on the mound for Thursday’s opener of a four-game series at Nationals Park — Adams hasn’t excelled against lefties — but Snitker said if they were to face another lefty starter Friday he’d probably have Adams back in the lineup.

“More (about) Freddie; it’s a new position and kind of the physicality of it,” Snitker said of getting Freeman off third base for a night. “I’m not going to give him a day off; still want him to hit. So he can go over to first and kind of give him a break from that position for a day. (That’s the reason) really, more than anything. Because I don’t want to take his bat out of the lineup and we’re not DH’ing, so that’s the biggest thing.”

Also, Snitker said, “I don’t want him to completely not play over there (at first base) either. The whole third-base thing is going to be really good for everything going forward, I think. Like I say, this is more of a break physically than anything for him.”

The Braves were scheduled to face veteran right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and the Nationals have announced a starter for Sunday’s final game before the All-Star break.

If the Braves decide to trade Adams before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Freeman would move back to first base. They are a better defensive team with Freeman at first base and rookie Johan Camargo at third base, as deployed in Thursday’s lineup. Of course, they don’t have as potent a middle of the lineup without Adams.

Adams has cooled some since a blistering first month with the Braves. After joining the team May 21 and hitting .298 with 12 homers, 31 RBIs and a 1.009 OPS in his first 31 games for the Braves through June 22, he was 8-for-35 (.229) with no home runs, one RBI and a .549 OPS in his past 10 games before Thursday.

He was hitting .184 (6-for-37) with two home runs, one walk, 10 strikeouts and a .536 OPS against lefties, compared to .362 (53-for-170) with 11 homers, 14 walks, 44 strikeouts and a .938 OPS against right-handers. All but three at-bats vs. lefties came since he was traded from the Cardinals to the Braves, and he was hitless in his past 12 at-bats against lefties.

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