Freeman gets short opportunity to rest knee
Braves first baseman wasn't expected to play Thursday until Upton's injury
ATLANTA -- As first baseman Freddie Freeman walked through the Braves' clubhouse late Thursday afternoon, one of his teammates playfully said, "If [the Indians] had known you were hurt, they would have never walked you."
Freeman's occasionally cranky right knee was bothering him before he drew an intentional walk ahead of Chris Johnson's walk-off single in Wednesday night's 3-2 win over the Indians. The ailment has never proven to be serious in the past.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to rest Freeman and give Joey Terdoslavich the starting assignment in Thursday night's series finale at Turner Field. But after Justin Upton was hit on the right hand by a Ubaldo Jimenez pitch and exited in the fifth inning, Freeman entered as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game at first base while Terdoslavich shifted to Upton's spot in left field.
"It's nothing major," Gonzalez said. "This isn't going to make it go away tomorrow. But maybe he'll feel better."
Gonzalez expects Freeman to be in the lineup on Friday, when the Braves get their first look at Jose Fernandez, the electric Marlins right-hander who stands as one of the top candidates for National League Rookie of the Year Award honors.
"It's one of those things that's going to be nagging," Gonzalez said. "Any time we can, we'll give him a breather."
Facing Fernandez is not certainly not the optimal way for Freeman to break out of his mini-slump. He has gone 1-for-14 since recording a pair of hits in last Friday's loss to the Cardinals.
Gonzalez thought about playing Evan Gattis at first base. But he instead chose to go with the more reliable defensive option. Terdoslavich primarily played first base while with Double-A Mississippi in 2012 and made one previous start at the position for Atlanta this season.
Gattis has made four starts at first base for Atlanta this season. But his only previous professional experience at the position came during seven games he played for Class A Rome in 2011.
"Terdo has done it more than Gattis," Gonzalez said. "It's my comfort level more than any other reason."