Freese returns to action, homers, says back is 'fine'

Freese returns to action, homers, says back is 'fine'

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Playing for the first time in a week, David Freese left Tradition Field on Thursday feeling good about both his back and his swing.

Bugged by a bruised tailbone, Freese took several days off before he resumed swinging on Tuesday. He spent part of his off-day Wednesday taking additional batting practice, after which he phoned manager Mike Matheny to tell him he felt well enough to test his back in a game on Thursday.

Freese played five innings in the field against the Mets and sent the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning over the right-field wall for his second spring homer.

"It's a little stiff, but that's to be expected," Freese said, when asked about his back. "It's fine. Let's keep going and get ready."

Matheny intends to play Freese again Friday but again won't push him too deep into games for a little while longer. Thirteen players on the Cardinals' roster have more spring at-bats than Freese, who upped his total to 27 with three on Thursday. He didn't put a number on how many more he'd like to get before the season opener but expressed assurance that he'll be ready when April arrives.

"You go through a few Spring Trainings and you understand what it takes to get ready," Freese said. "Whether you come out of the gates in April smashing the ball or not, you just do what you can to prepare for 162 games."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.