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."