LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When the Braves open the Grapefruit League schedule Saturday against Detroit, they’ll start all projected lineup regulars except injured first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Eric Hinske will play first base and Matt Diaz will be the designated hitter for the Braves, who have rookie Tyler Pastornicky making his debut as their new starting shortstop.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez trimmed Friday’s workout by dropping the regular conditioning segment at the end.
“I cut the guys loose a little early today, because they’re ready to go,” he said. “They’ve been working hard, and we gave them a little breather so they’d be refreshed tomorrow.”
Braves left-hander Mike Minor will face Tigers right-hander Doug Fister. Gonzalez declined to name any of his planned relievers for Saturday.
The Braves will have an outfield of Martin Prado in left, Michael Bourn in center and Jason Heyward in right. The infield has second baseman Dan Uggla and third baseman Chipper Jones with Pastornicky and Hinske.
“Practice has been good,” catcher Brian McCann said. “But it’s time to play.”
Gonzalez plans to get two at-bats for most of his regulars and two innings from Minor before making substitutions.
The game will be carried on 680 AM and 93.7 FM in Atlanta, and former Braves great Dale Murphy is set to join Jim Powell in the radio booth. Murphy begins a 15-day stint as guest coach in Braves camp.
There is no scheduled television broadcast — including no MLB.tv — for any Braves game until a March 9 split-squad game vs. the Yankees on MLB Network.
Freeman recovering quickly
Three days after hurting his knee, Freeman did some jogging Friday and said he could be back in the lineup in a few days. He walked two laps and jogged another around a backfield at the Braves’ spring-training complex.
Gonzalez was encouraged to see Freeman not favoring the right leg. He won’t let the first baseman talk his way into the lineup this weekend, but said he could be ready to play early next week.
Freeman could be cleared to hit in the batting cage as soon as Saturday.
He diagnosed with a subluxation of his right patella after his kneecap briefly popped out of place when he reached for a low throw on Tuesday.
It’s the second time he’s had the same injury in two years, and Freeman said he will wear a knee brace in workouts and games for the rest of his career.
He was only supposed to walk around the perimeter of the field Friday, but Freeman said he couldn’t resist pushing it a bit more.
“I felt good so I started jogging,” he said, smiling. “Bubba [head trainer Jeff Porter] wasn’t out there so he couldn’t stop me. I checked to make sure he wasn’t.”