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Freeman upbeat about move across diamond

Injured Braves star to begin rehab assignment, switch to third base
MLB.com @mlbbowman

SAN DIEGO -- Freddie Freeman admits he wasn't exactly comfortable as he spent the past week acclimating himself to his new position. But after taking a series of grounders before Wednesday night's game at Petco Park, Freeman felt much better about his plan to return to Atlanta's lineup next week as a third baseman.

"I was really encouraged today," Freeman said. "I was really in my head the past couple of days, wondering if it was going to work. I still don't [know], but my confidence has grown a lot more over the past week. I felt like a first baseman playing third base for a few days. Now I'm getting everything going and getting all of the angles right. I think it's going to be good."

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SAN DIEGO -- Freddie Freeman admits he wasn't exactly comfortable as he spent the past week acclimating himself to his new position. But after taking a series of grounders before Wednesday night's game at Petco Park, Freeman felt much better about his plan to return to Atlanta's lineup next week as a third baseman.

"I was really encouraged today," Freeman said. "I was really in my head the past couple of days, wondering if it was going to work. I still don't [know], but my confidence has grown a lot more over the past week. I felt like a first baseman playing third base for a few days. Now I'm getting everything going and getting all of the angles right. I think it's going to be good."

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Freeman plans to work out again at Petco Park and then fly to Atlanta on Friday to begin what could be a four-game Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. His current plan is to play Saturday afternoon in Charlotte and rest on Sunday. He would then play the first of three straight days on Monday, when Gwinnett begins a homestand.

If all goes well, Freeman could return to Atlanta's lineup on July 6, for the opener of a four-game series at Nationals Park.

Video: MLB Tonight on Freeman's progress at third base

After completing the defensive drills Wednesday afternon, Freeman took batting practice on the field for the first time since he fractured his left wrist on May 17. As he sprayed line drives to all fields, he didn't provide any indication he had developed any rust since being placed on the disabled list with a .341 batting average, 14 homers and a 1.209 OPS.

"It's a big relief for me," Freeman said. "I swung a lot more than I did yesterday [in the batting cage]. It held up and it was actually getting better and better as I was hitting more. … I felt good and I felt normal. I felt like I was doing what I was doing before I got hurt."

When Freeman's wrist was fractured by a pitch, the initial assessment was that he would be sidelined until at least July's final week. But the two-time All-Star made steady progress with his recovery and a recent test showed he has regained all of his strength in the wrist region.

Freeman revealed last week that he planned to transition to third base to allow Matt Adams to continue serving as the Braves' first baseman. He has worked daily with third-base coach Ron Washington and bench coach Terry Pendleton. But it wasn't until Wednesday that he truly started to feel confident about his bold decision.

"Everybody was pretty excited today," Freeman said. "Today I just had a lot of fun."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Freddie Freeman