Freeman gets short opportunity to rest knee
Braves first baseman wasn't expected to play Thursday until Upton's injury
ATLANTA -- As first baseman Freddie Freeman walked through the Braves' clubhouse late Thursday afternoon, one of his teammates playfully said, "If [the Indians] had known you were hurt, they would have never walked you."
Freeman's occasionally cranky right knee was bothering him before he drew an intentional walk ahead of Chris Johnson's walk-off single in Wednesday night's 3-2 win over the Indians. The ailment has never proven to be serious in the past.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to rest Freeman and give Joey Terdoslavich the starting assignment in Thursday night's series finale at Turner Field. But after Justin Upton was hit on the right hand by a Ubaldo Jimenez pitch and exited in the fifth inning, Freeman entered as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game at first base while Terdoslavich shifted to Upton's spot in left field.
"It's nothing major," Gonzalez said. "This isn't going to make it go away tomorrow. But maybe he'll feel better."
Gonzalez expects Freeman to be in the lineup on Friday, when the Braves get their first look at Jose Fernandez, the electric Marlins right-hander who stands as one of the top candidates for National League Rookie of the Year Award honors.
"It's one of those things that's going to be nagging," Gonzalez said. "Any time we can, we'll give him a breather."
Facing Fernandez is not certainly not the optimal way for Freeman to break out of his mini-slump. He has gone 1-for-14 since recording a pair of hits in last Friday's loss to the Cardinals.
Gonzalez thought about playing Evan Gattis at first base. But he instead chose to go with the more reliable defensive option. Terdoslavich primarily played first base while with Double-A Mississippi in 2012 and made one previous start at the position for Atlanta this season.
Gattis has made four starts at first base for Atlanta this season. But his only previous professional experience at the position came during seven games he played for Class A Rome in 2011.
"Terdo has done it more than Gattis," Gonzalez said. "It's my comfort level more than any other reason."
Walden nearing return despite groin issue
ATLANTA -- Jordan Walden's aggressive delivery seemingly subjects him to a variety of leg ailments. But the sore groin that has sidelined the Braves reliever over the past few days developed while he was simply jogging before a game in St. Louis this past weekend.
Walden has felt better over the past few days and remains hopeful that he will be available to pitch again by Friday's series opener with the Marlins.
Walden's injury came after he impressed with the two perfect innings in the Aug. 21 win over the Mets. The right-handed setup man struck out four of the six batters he faced and totaled 25 pitches.
"Those might have been the best two innings he's thrown or anybody's thrown," Gonzalez said. "He was nails. I think he went through six outs."
With Walden ailing, Luis Avilan made his fourth appearance in five days in Wednesday night's 3-2 walk-off win over the Indians. Avilan loaded the bases with just one out in the eighth and then minimized the damage to one run. But the usually reliable left-handed setup man has allowed a run in three of his past seven appearances entering Thursday's series finale.
Avilan had allowed just one run, which was unearned, in the 35 appearances that preceded this stretch.
While Avilan could understandably be feeling some fatigue as he nears the end of his first full Major League season, Gonzalez said he has not seen any reason to be concerned.
• Right-hander Tim Hudson has been in the Braves' clubhouse the past few days keeping his teammates loose. Hudson has lost 10 pounds since sustaining a season-ending injury when Eric Young Jr. stepped on his right ankle while running through first base on July 24.
But the veteran pitcher said he has been relatively pain free the past couple of weeks. Hudson is hoping to begin running and completing other physical exercises in November.
• Brian McCann set a new franchise record for catchers when he produced his ninth career bunt hit during Wednesday's fifth inning. The record had previously been held by his good friend David Ross, whose four-season stint with Atlanta ended last year.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.