Freese, who is nearing the end of his first healthy season in the Majors, has already appeared in 136 games after playing barely a full season's worth in the previous two years combined. Injuries kept Freese off the field for large portions of the 2009-11 seasons.
That's enough of a reason, Matheny said, to watch closely for fatigue. Freese wasn't in the Cardinals' lineup for Friday's opener with the Cubs.
"There are times you can see by his movements that he's getting worn down," Matheny said. "Could we throw him out there and push him and grind him good? There's no question we could. But is that the best thing for him and the best thing for us? I think history has shown us that's probably not the case."
Matheny didn't rule out resting Freese for more than just one day, though the urgency to reel off wins could trump that this late in the season. The Cardinals do have the benefit of being able to start Matt Carpenter in Freese's place while not taking too substantial of a hit on the defensive or offensive end.
Freese has hit .295 this season. Carpenter, in 104 games, is batting .297.