SAN FRANCISCO -- While determining how to construct his lineup without Chipper Jones on Saturday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had the luxury of putting his hottest hitter in Jones' customary third spot.
Coming off his third two-hit game in a span of four days, Freddie Freeman batted third for Saturday afternoon's matchup against Tim Lincecum and the Giants.
"There's nothing better than a Major League hitter with confidence, and he's got it," Jones said of Freeman, who entered Saturday hitting .349 with three doubles and three homers in his previous 15 games.
Gonzalez's primary concern with putting Freeman in the third spot of the lineup was the fact that he was surrounded by fellow left-handed hitters Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. This could prove to be a problem against the Giants, who possess a pair of effective left-handed relievers -- Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez.
During the early portion of his career, Freeman has given the Braves confidence in his ability against left-handed pitchers. He has recorded seven hits, including a double and two homers, in 20 at-bats against them this year.
"You like the at-bats Freddie gives you against left-handed pitching," Gonzalez said. "I don't know what the averages are. He still probably only has like 20 at-bats, so I don't look at that stuff. I just look at the approach. He had a heck of an approach against [Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw] the other day."
Chipper sits to rest sore right knee
SAN FRANCISCO -- Chipper Jones doesn't seem too concerned about the right knee discomfort that kept him out of the lineup for Saturday's matchup against Tim Lincecum and the Giants. But the veteran Braves third baseman is a little bothered that he has realized little improvement while taking anti-inflammatory medication the past couple of weeks.
"It's getting to the point that it's starting to hurt right-handed and I haven't been moving around too well defensively," Jones said. "We need to get everybody some ABs. Hopefully, this is just a day or two."
Even though he would have been batting from the left side against the right-handed Lincecum on Saturday, Jones felt he needed to rest the knee after he felt increased discomfort while playing in the chilly conditions that surrounded Friday's series opener at AT&T Park.
Jones didn't know if he would be ready to return to the lineup while celebrating his 39th birthday Sunday. With the Giants starting left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Jones would likely record most of his plate appearances from the right side of the plate.
Fortunately, Jones has gone two months since being concerned about any discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee. But he thinks his current discomfort might be a product of the added stress he has placed on his right knee while attempting to protect the left one.
"I'm thinking it's something related to favoring the other side," Jones said. "My left leg feels great. I don't feel like I've been favoring it, but who knows?"
With Jones absent for Saturday afternoon's game, the Braves moved Martin Prado to third base and positioned Eric Hinske in left field.
Braves ink Swaggerty to Minor League deal
The Braves have signed 28-year-old left-hander Ben Swaggerty to a Minor League deal.
A reliever, the 6-foot-1 Swaggerty posted a 3.81 ERA in 59 innings for the Royals' Double-A affiliate last season. He was released by the Royals in Spring Training and has not pitched for a Major League affiliate this season.
The signing was made primarily for depth purposes. Swaggerty may report to Class A ball.
Jonny Venters said he felt fine while working a perfect eighth inning in Friday night's win over the Giants. Because of discomfort in his upper left arm, the Braves had rested the durable left-handed reliever Wednesday and Thursday. Entering Saturday, opponents had hit just .061 (2-for-33) against Venters this year.
Closer Craig Kimbrel completed a perfect 13-pitch ninth inning Friday and needed 38 pitches to complete two innings against the Dodgers on Thursday. But Gonzalez said he would use Kimbrel again if necessary for Saturday's game.
Bullpen coach Eddie Perez created some laughs Friday night when he glued a plastic cup to the top of strength and conditioning coach Phil Falco's winter hat. Falco was unaware of the cup as it sat on his head for 1 1/2 innings. He finally saw it when he entered the clubhouse's restroom.