Freddie Freeman makes spring debut after injury

It’s time to get about the business at hand.

Freeman made his first spring-training appearance of the season Tuesday in the Braves’ 5-2 loss to the Nationals in a Grapefruit League game. The first baseman has been limited since he suffered a partially dislocated knee cap during a fielding drill last week. Freeman played first base for four innings with two-at bats — although he wanted one more.

“Hopefully it ends soon, I get a few games under my belt with no problems and we can move past this,” said Freeman, who tried to talk manager Fredi Gonzalez into another plate appearance. “My knee feels great right now.”

Freeman will get that extra at-bat Wednesday when the Braves play the Tigers in Lakeland. Gonzalez said Freeman may play Thursday against the Orioles in Sarasota as well. Freeman hit into a fielder’s choice and flew out to center field Tuesday.

The Braves’ hit leader last season was most concerned about pushing off first base while holding runners on. He said that wasn’t a problem.

“I felt good,” Freeman said. “I had no problems. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I’m not going to go out there if I didn’t feel like I could do it. It felt good swinging. It felt good fielding. I was able to come off the bag when holding on runners and go back just in case there was a throw back.

“I think the first time I held a runner on, jumped off and then pushed back, that was what I was most concerned about. ... It held up [Tuesday] after doing all the workouts in the morning. We’ll see how I react [later Tuesday] and tomorrow.”

What Freeman has not done yet is pick a low throw, the play on which he was injured. He said he worked on a simplified version of the play during a drill. He does not expect that to be an issue.

A new protective sleeve he is wearing on the knee has helped. Freeman said he replaced a bulky brace with protection that offers more comfort and better mobility in his right quad muscle.

“We are just going day by day,” Freeman said. “Today I felt great, so hopefully it doesn’t do anything crazy and swell up on my tomorrow.”

The original diagnosis called for Freeman to miss one to two weeks. He was back in seven days after suffering the injury Feb. 28.

“That was perfect for him to do all his pregame stuff and get two at-bats,” Gonzalez said. “Now we will move forward. Hopefully he plays a couple days in a row. ... He wants to play and those are always good signs.”

Freeman finished second behind teammate Craig Kimbrel in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after last season. He hit .282 with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs in 157 games. His .996 fielding percentage ranked fifth among NL first basemen.

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