LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Even as Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was in the dugout Tuesday praising first baseman Freddie Freeman’s defense, Freeman was headed to the the clubhouse with an injured knee.
Freeman has a sublux (partial dislocation) of the right kneecap after being injured during a fielding drill near the end of Tuesday’s workout. He’s scheduled to be reevaluated by a specialist on Wednesday.
The Braves said the knee was stable after the injury, which is similar to one that Freeman had in May 2010 at Triple-A Gwinnett. He was out nearly two weeks with that injury.
Freeman hadn’t had problems with the knee since 2010 until Tuesday, when he reached to field a low throw and felt the kneecap slip out of place.
He was the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year runner-up — behind Braves closer Craig Kimbrel — after hitting .282 with 32 doubles, 21 homers and 76 RBIs.
Gonzalez wasn’t aware of the the injury during a post-workout interview with reporters, when he lauded Freeman and former Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez for being the biggest reasons the team set a franchise record for fielding percentage in 2011.
In a brief conversation with a teammate after Tuesday’s workout, Freeman didn’t seem overly concerned and said he thought he could be ready to play in a week or two.
In Freeman’s absence, veteran utility man Eric Hinske and versatile journeyman Drew Sutton could get more playing time at first base along with non-roster invitee Ernesto Mejia, who hit .297 with 26 homers, a .375 on-base percentage and 99 RBIs for the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi affiliate.
The Braves don’t play their first spring-training game until Saturday and already have two infielders and a starting pitcher injured.
Backup shortstop Jack Wilson is expected to miss four to six weeks with a strained calf, which he hurt during a conditioning drill last week before reporting to spring training.
Pitcher Tommy Hanson missed the first week of camp after suffering a Grade 1 concussion in a one-car accident on his way to the opening pitchers-and-catchers workout of spring. He has eased back into limited activities the past three days.
Starting pitcher Tim Hudson is recovering from back surgery and could be out until May.
Hanson nears return
Hanson could return to full activity by Wednesday and pitch off the mound for the first time all spring on Thursday, provided he passes the ImPact concussion test. He was to take it a third time either Tuesday or Wednesday.
On his second test, Hanson’s results nearly matched the baseline test he took three years ago. He said only one of his responses failed to match the baseline results, and he thought that might have had something to do with a faulty computer mouse he was using. He was to use a different computer when he took the test the third time.
Hanson said he’s felt normal and headache-free while steadily increasing his workouts the past three days. He did a little more running and throwing on Tuesday than he did Monday.