Freeman returns to Braves’ lineup, says elbow ‘felt good’

First baseman Freddie Freeman returned to the Braves’ lineup for Monday night’s exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies after missing a week with inflammation in his surgically repaired right elbow.

He batted twice before departing Monday’s game as planned. He walked in the first inning and grounded out to third base in the second.

“I felt good,” Freeman said. “I know everyone is saying this and that about (the elbow), but ... the swelling is completely gone. No reservations tonight.

“I knew I was feeling pretty good a few days ago. Obviously, the cautious approach in spring training was probably the smart move.”

Freeman had been out of the lineup since the Braves’ first two exhibition games Feb. 22-23.

Going forward, Braves manager Brian Snitker said the plan is for Freeman to sit out Tuesday (an afternoon game following a night game), play Wednesday,  have a day off Thursday (when the team has no game) and play again Friday. “And if everything is good then, just go right back on his regular rotation,” Snitker said.

Freeman said he’ll get two at-bats Wednesday and three Friday.

Not surprisingly, Freeman said he expects to play everyday once the regular season begins on March 26.

Freeman underwent surgery in New York in October on the long-troublesome elbow, which worsened late last season. The surgery included "removing three fragmented loose bodies and cleaning up multiple bone-spur formations that had developed," the Braves previously said.

Other items of note from Monday’s game, which the Braves lost 6-4 to the Phillies:

> Sean Newcomb, vying for a spot in the Braves’ pitching rotation, started. He allowed two hits and struck out three in three scoreless innings. In two spring starts, he has allowed  two runs on five hits in five innings.

“I feel pretty locked in,” Newcomb said after Monday’s game. “Everything is kind of working the way it should be. Just got to keep rolling.”

> Prized prospect Cristian Pache started in center field and went 3-for-3, all singles. He also had two stolen bases.

> Austin Riley and Johan Camargo, battling for the starting third-base job, were both in the lineup -- Riley at third base and Camargo at designated hitter. Camargo was 2-for-3 to raise his Grapefruit League batting average to .400. Riley was 1-for-3 with an RBI double off the center-field wall to lift his average to .313.  Riley also committed an error at third base.

> The Phillies, who trailed 4-2 after eight innings, scored four runs in the ninth. All were charged to Braves reliever Shane Greene, whose spring-training ERA is 16.88 after three appearances. Phillies backup catcher (and former Braves prospect) Christian Bethancourt led off the ninth with a home run off Greene.  It was Bethancourt’s second homer of the night, the other coming against  Will Smith in the seventh inning.