03/13/12 2:54 PM ET
Freeman starting to regain timing at plate
By Anthony Chiang / Special to MLB.com
But after missing a week because of the injury, the Braves first baseman lost his timing. And it showed, as Freeman collected just one hit over his first 14 at-bats after returning to Atlanta's lineup.
"I was feeling pretty good before I got hurt, and my timing was pretty good," Freeman said. "Then I missed a week, so I was a little late in the beginning. But now I'm starting to get it back up."
The 22-year-old broke out of his mini-slump Monday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI against the St. Louis Cardinals. The effort raised his Spring Training batting average to .167 from .071.
"I've been feeling pretty good at the plate lately," Freeman said. "Obviously, the results haven't been what I want them to be. But I've been hitting the ball hard, and that's all that really matters to me at this point. It's nice to throw a couple out there, though, to make you feel a little bit better."
Freeman doesn't just feel better with the bat in his hand; his right knee has also improved.
Although his kneecap popped out of place less than a month ago, Freeman said he doesn't even think about it when he's on the field, and that the knee is pain free.
With the injury behind him, Freeman just wants to focus on preparing for the start of the regular season. And even though he broke out of his slump Monday, he's not worried about putting up big numbers in Spring Training.
"Success in spring, people can view it differently," he said. "A lot of people just go in and try to hit the ball hard. Some people get happy when they don't get results, because that means they're saving it for the season."
Heyward makes brief return to center field
JUPITER, Fla. -- During Sunday's split-squad game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., Jason Heyward found himself in an unusual but familiar spot -- center field.
The Braves decided to put their usual right fielder at the position to get a better feel for Heyward's ability to play in center field.
"It was cool," he said. "I love center field, and I love playing the outfield."
Heyward has played in center field before, as he was also asked to play the position in high school and in the Minors.
"We had a split-squad [game], so it was just putting somebody else out there that may play the position throughout the year," he said.
Anthony Chiang is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.