Freddie Freeman cleared to swing bat; expected return now July 6

ATLANTA -- Braves slugger Freddie Freeman says his broken left wrist is healing much faster than expected, allowing the timetable for his return to move up about one week.

After undergoing a CT scan and meeting Friday with team physician Dr. Gary Lourie, Freeman was told his wrist is 80-90 percent healed, up from 50 percent last week.

The improvement led Freeman to move up his expected return to July 6 at NL East-leading Washington. The original timetable had him returning July 14, the day after the All-Star break.

Lourie's report was encouraging enough that Freeman was cleared to swing a bat for the first time since he was hit by a pitch on May 17. Freeman said he hopes to begin a three- to four-game rehab assignment next weekend.

"They're all pretty shocked it got to that point, too, especially with me stressing it the last couple of days catching balls and all that stuff," he said. "It's actually great news.

"Everybody's been saying they really didn't think I was going to be back in eight to 10 weeks. Obviously, I had a different mindset going into it. But we're just at two days over five weeks right now, so I'm pretty ecstatic with how the recovery has gone."

Freeman's prognosis was a surprise, though maybe not as much as his announcement Wednesday that he's moving from first to third base to keep Matt Adams in the lineup.

Freeman's adjustment to third base is a work in progress.

He met Thursday with close friend and former teammate Chipper Jones, the longtime star who manned the position for most of his 18-year big league career. Jones said the biggest adjustments would be throwing from different angles and mastering throws on slow rollers.

"I feel comfortable," Freeman said. "I'm not going to tell you that I feel like I do at first base. I definitely don't. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, but I don't feel out of place. That's all I can ask for now, and the work has gone good."

Freeman, who last year finished sixth in NL MVP voting, said that he's being fitted for a custom guard to cover his wrist when batting. He led the NL with 14 homers when he was injured.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.