LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Freddie Freeman and the Braves breathed a little easier Wednesday after he woke feeling better a day after partially dislocating his right kneecap.
The Braves didn’t think the big first baseman would be sidelined more than a week, and Freeman said he would try to get back to practice Friday and talk his way into the lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against Detroit.
It was his second subluxation of the right patella in two years, and Freeman plans to wear a knee brace from now on.
He was hurt picking a throw during a defensive drill, the same injury he had in May 2010 at Triple-A Gwinnett. After that injury he was back in the lineup one week later as a designated hitter and back at first base within two weeks.
“I feel a lot better today,” said Freeman, 22, who had been worried Tuesday after hearing his knee pop and seeing the patella (kneecap) slide to one side. “Yesterday I thought this one was a little bit worse, but when I got up this morning I was able to get out of bed without really any pain. I think I’ll be back sooner than we thought.”
He was examined immediately after the injury Tuesday and assured that the knee was structurally sound. Freeman was on crutches for three days when he hurt it in 2010. He walked without assistance Wednesday, albeit with a limp.
He was to have a precautionary X-ray and MRI on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve got a knee brace now that I’m probably going to have to wear for the rest of my career, because this is twice in a year-and-a-half and I just can’t have this happen again,” said Freeman, who is about 6 feet 5 and 240 pounds.
“I’m just glad it happened in the first few days and not going into the last week of spring training. I’m thankful everything is structurally sound down there and hopefully we’ll prevent this again in the future.”
Freeman, the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year runner-up, said his kneecap popped back into place immediately when he fell to the ground in pain.
“My kneecap went to the right side and then came back in, so it stretched all the ligaments inside. And that’s what is causing the pain,” he said. “I’ve got a little bruising right now, but we’re OK, hopefully coming back as soon as possible. I’ll probably try to come back in a couple of days, but we’ll see what happens.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said for the time being he would go with the one-week estimate he got from Braves trainers and not rush Freeman into the lineup, since it’s so early and he has plenty of time to get ready for the regular season.