ST. LOUIS -- David Freese is one step closer to returning from a broken left hand.
Freese, who underwent surgery on May 3, was cleared to start swinging after meeting with hand specialist Dr. David M. Brown on Tuesday.
It was welcome news to the third baseman, who didn't expect to swing a bat this early in his rehab.
"I'm way ahead of schedule," Freese said Tuesday.
Freese passed a series of tests examining his range of motion and ability to make a fist. He won't begin throwing for at least two weeks before doctors examine him again, but Freese will take swings in a progression: hitting wiffle balls, tennis balls, then baseballs.
"If it feels good we'll just keep moving," Freese said. "We'll just take it in stride but now it's just a matter of strength. By the time I get to full strength then the bone will be ready to go."
Freese has not played since breaking his hand on May 1 at Atlanta.