Freese described himself as "sore, but available [to pinch-hit]" shortly before testing his right leg out by stretching and running on the Wrigley Field grass. He anticipates returning to the lineup on Saturday, though Freese also admitted that he didn't expect to have to sit on Friday.
He said he felt the initial tightness during an at-bat of Thursday's 7-4 win over the Dodgers. The grabbing sensation continued when he ran the bases and played the field, which led to manager Mike Matheny's decision to pinch-hit for Freese in the sixth inning.
"We'll have to keep our eye on it," Matheny said. "I think it's turned into a little more than what they thought, as far as soreness."
After keeping Beltran out of Thursday's lineup, Matheny chose to sit the outfielder again on Friday in an effort to "invest in our future." Matheny said that it appeared to him that Beltran was fighting through Wednesday's game, which made it an easy decision to sit Beltran on Thursday. The chance to get Beltran back-to-back days off was also appealing.
"It's not as much his swing as it is his body," Matheny explained. "When his body feels good, everything else seems to fall into place. I don't think anyone has any question about how valuable he is to us. So to sacrifice one to get him back to where he's been for a good part of the season is a good trade."
Beltran, who said on Friday that "nothing is wrong with [his knee]," showed up at Wrigley Field expecting to start.
"I'm good," Beltran said. "He decided to give me two days, that's it. He told me he felt like I needed another day."
Beltran, who has been out of the lineup in four of the 14 games the Cardinals have played since the All-Star break, is 10-for-45 since the start of the second half.