SAN DIEGO -- As Freddie Freeman has spent most of this summer on the disabled list, he has seen the Braves bid adieu to any realistic hope to claim an unexpected postseason spot. But when Freeman made his much-anticipated return to Atlanta's lineup during Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Padres, he did so with an optimistic outlook that could help make the remainder of this season more enjoyable for him and his teammates.
"There's still not an [elimination] X by our name," Freeman said. "It's baseball. The Nationals are supposed to win 100 games. You never know what can happen. I'm going to keep believing. You play this game for one reason, and it's to get to the playoffs. Until I'm officially eliminated, that's what I'm going to keep playing for."
Though he was limited to an infield single in the four plate appearances he tallied Wednesday, Freeman was simply happy to be back playing at the Major League level. The 25-year-old first baseman had missed 43 of Atlanta's previous 53 games while recovering from both a sprained right wrist and right oblique strain.
Freeman sustained the oblique strain on Aug. 3, while playing in just his 10th game since returning from the five-week absence that was required when the wrist injury sidelined him on June 18. His first trip to the disabled list ended his Major League-best streak of appearing in 243 consecutive games.
"Hopefully, this is the last time I say it's good to be back," Freeman said.
After recording an infield single during Wednesday's first inning, Freeman drew a walk that helped lead to a run in the third inning. He flied out to right field in the fifth inning and then recorded a costly strikeout immediately before Nick Markakis cut the deficit to one run with an RBI double in the eighth.
"I did feel good and healthy," Freeman said. "I'm seeing everything, but it just felt like I was getting started a little too late. [Tyson Ross] was throwing 92-93 [mph] heaters in, it's just a matter of getting adjusted to them. That's an adjustment I'll need to make tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll come out and hit some balls harder than I did today."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.