Freeman out of lineup vs. O's with sore hand

Freeman out of lineup vs. O's with sore hand

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman received encouraging news when X-rays taken on June 7 showed that he had not suffered a fracture after his left hand after being struck by a Jose Reyes throw the night before. But more than a week later, the Braves first baseman is still battling discomfort.

Freeman felt better after not playing on Wednesday and resting his hand during Thursday's offday. But he was not quite ready to return to the lineup for Friday night's series opener against the Orioles.

"It's getting better," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "[Head trainer Jeff Porter] says the swelling is coming down. But [Porter] said [the injury] might linger all year. It's up to [Freeman] to try to play through it."

With Freeman unavailable to play on Friday and the Orioles starting left-hander Brian Matusz, Martin Prado made his first start of the season at first base. The versatile Prado had made 34 previous starts at first base, with all but two of those coming during the 2008 and '09 seasons.

"I'm like the Matrix," Prado jokingly said. "I'll just download the program before I take the field."