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Back at first, Freeman collects 1,000th hit

Manning third since return, slugger returns to old spot for a day, reaches feat at plate
MLB.com @mlbbowman

WASHINGTON -- Since returning from a seven-week absence necessitated by a fractured left wrist, Freddie Freeman has proven he is primed to continue being one of baseball's elite offensive threats, regardless of where he is positioned.

Given a chance to reacquaint himself with first base during Thursday night's 5-2 win over the Nationals, Freeman recorded a pair of RBI doubles and became the 19th player to record 1,000 hits in a Braves uniform. He reached this milestone in his 949th game, making him the eighth-fastest player in franchise history to do so since 1900.

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WASHINGTON -- Since returning from a seven-week absence necessitated by a fractured left wrist, Freddie Freeman has proven he is primed to continue being one of baseball's elite offensive threats, regardless of where he is positioned.

Given a chance to reacquaint himself with first base during Thursday night's 5-2 win over the Nationals, Freeman recorded a pair of RBI doubles and became the 19th player to record 1,000 hits in a Braves uniform. He reached this milestone in his 949th game, making him the eighth-fastest player in franchise history to do so since 1900.

View Full Game Coverage

"Usually when I get stuff like this, it's in losses, so you don't really get to enjoy them," Freeman said. "But tonight, getting to 1,000 hits is pretty cool. I'll probably reflect on it more later on in life, but right now, it's just nice to get the win and come up with a couple big hits for the team."

Video: ATL@WSH: Freeman on recording his 1,000th career hit

Because the Nationals started lefty Gio Gonzalez, Braves manager Brian Snitker opted to sit Matt Adams, who has hit .162 (6-for-37) against southpaws. This allowed Freeman to move from his new role at third base back to his familiar first-base position.

Freeman delivered a game-tying double in the third inning and then added his second two-bagger of the night to drive in an insurance run during a two-run seventh inning. The two-time All-Star has recorded five hits in 13 at-bats since returning from the disabled list. He was hitting .341 with an MLB-best 14 homers and a 1.209 OPS when his wrist was fractured by a pitch during a May 17 game against the Blue Jays.

Video: ATL@WSH: Freeman laces an RBI double to right field

"I feel pretty good up there," Freeman said. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well. Hopefully I can continue that over the rest of this series."

Tweet from @darenw: .@Braves Freddie Freeman notched his 1000th @mlb hit yesterday... And wow his spray chart is a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/w0VWuAu5ES

Before making his return from the DL on Tuesday, Freeman volunteered to make this switch to allow Adams a chance to remain in the lineup on a regular basis. This arrangement certainly strengthens the Braves' lineup against right-handed starters.

But sitting Adams, putting Freeman at first base and playing Johan Camargo at third base against lefties strengthens the lineup from both an offensive and defensive perspective.

"I'm not going to give [Freeman] a day off," Snitker said. "I still want him to hit. So he can go at first. That kind of gives him a break from [third base] for just a day. ... I don't want him to completely not be over [at first base] either. This is more of a break physically more than anything for him."

Video: Rose, Millar discuss Freddie Freeman playing third

With the Nationals scheduled to start a right-handed pitcher each of the next three days, Freeman is expected to be back at third base for the remainder of this weekend's series.

Time will tell exactly how long the Braves will stick with positioning Freeman at third base. They have indicated they're willing to do so for the remainder of the season. But at the same time, they will field trade offers for Adams over the next couple of weeks, and if the right deal materializes, they may attempt to gain some value for the left-handed slugger, who was acquired from the Cardinals as an emergency replacement three days after Freeman was injured.

Video: SF@ATL: Matt Adams crushes a solo home run to right

If Adams is traded before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Freeman would simply move back to first base. Camargo would be the top candidate to play third base. But Sean Rodriguez could also soon become an option. Rodriguez is aiming to return from left shoulder surgery at some point within the next few weeks.

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

Atlanta Braves, Matt Adams, Freddie Freeman