Elbow OK, Freeman back in Braves lineup

Freeman was back in the Braves lineup Thursday, like he has been every game this year, despite taking a fastball from left-hander Darin Downs off the “funny bone” on the tip of his right elbow the night before.

“It feels a lot better,” Freeman said Thursday morning in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. “It’s still got pain but it’s manageable.”

Freeman had slept in a compression sleeve and kept his elbow wrapped overnight. The first thing he did when he woke up was to see if he could straighten it out.

“It was still a little stiff obviously, but I got the blood flowing, got in here, got some ice on it, got it in the hot tub, took a couple Extra Strength Tylenol in there, and here we are,” Freeman said.

He took a few swings in the batting cage and said his elbow was a little stiff but nothing that forced him to swing any differently than normal. He planned to wear an elbow pad in the game for added protection.

“I don’t like wearing stuff, or tape or anything like that,” Freeman said. “But today I’m going to have to do it because if I get hit there again today it’s probably not going to be a good thing. I think this guy (Jarred Cosart) has like 97 with cut today too so this should be fun.”

Freeman was grateful to be back in the lineup. Until coming out in the eighth inning Wednesday, when manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Chris Johnson over to first base from third to replace him, Freeman had played every inning of every game this season.

Freeman, Starlin Castro of the Cubs and Hunter Pence of the Giants are the only players in the National League to start every game for their teams this season. Thursday was No. 78 for Freeman.

“It’s going to take a lot for me to come out of a game,” Freeman said. “Unfortunately it got me yesterday but I like to play every game. That’s why I’m here. I think I’m good enough to go today, so we’ll do that.”

Had he not come out in the eighth inning, he doesn’t think he would have been so lucky.

“I think that saved me,” Freeman said. “I think that was a good decision. If I had played and had all that swelling after the game, I don’t think I would have been able to go today, but I think that was the right move.”

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