Freeman looking at Monday return to Braves

Freeman looking at Monday return to Braves

PITTSBURGH -- As long as Freddie Freeman exits his final Minor League rehab game on Sunday without any problems, he will be activated in time to move back into the cleanup spot for the Braves in Monday night's series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field.

With Freeman back in the middle of the lineup, the Braves are planning to use Chris Johnson as their primary third baseman. Manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated on Saturday that was going to abort his plan to platoon Johnson and Juan Francisco at third base. He took a more committed stance on Sunday.

"He'll play third," Gonzalez said of Johnson. "The guy is leading the league in hitting."

Johnson entered Sunday leading the Majors with a .418 batting average. He has teamed with Evan Gattis and Justin Upton to serve as the most consistent contributors of a potent Atlanta lineup that has not yet lived up to its potential.

Entering Sunday, Johnson, Gattis and Upton had accounted for 40.4 percent (55 of 136) of the Braves' hits, 55.2 percent of the team's home runs (16 of 29) and 44.4 percent of the club's RBIs (32 of 72).

Despite playing in just five games before being put on the disabled list with a strained right oblique, Freeman entered Sunday tied with Francisco for the team's third-best RBI total, with seven.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.