Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - Braves slugger Freddie Freeman has returned earlier than expected from a broken left wrist and he's back as the starting third baseman.

His return is the latest stage in a surprising turnaround since he was hit by a pitch on May 17. He was told that he'd likely miss about 10 weeks but instead was sidelined just seven. He was reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday after he met with team physician Gary Lourie a few hours before Atlanta played the Houston Astros.

Freeman announced two weeks ago that he had approached the team about moving from first base to keep Matt Adams' bat in the lineup. A couple of days later, he said the fracture was between 80 and 90 percent healed and believed it was possible to return before the All-Star break.

Freeman spent the last few days on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. He had only five at-bats but said he had no problems swinging a bat. He's wearing a protective cover on his left wrist when hitting.

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