CHICAGO -- Jose Constanza returned to Wrigley Field on Tuesday afternoon and gave the Braves more reason to feel encouraged about the minor right ankle sprain he suffered while racing through the first-base bag with a sixth-inning infield single Monday night.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez remains hopeful that Constanza could return to his lineup before the completion of this week's four-game series against the Cubs.
"Maybe as early as [Wednesday]," Gonzalez said. "We'll see."
Constanza has battled problems with his right ankle during his Minor League days and had a brief scare earlier this month when he made an awkward slide into second base. He turned his ankle on the play and ended up spiking Mets utility man Daniel Murphy, who suffered a season-ending left knee injury on the play.
Constanza has batted .372 with seven stolen bases and a .417 on-base percentage through the first 23 games of his Major League career. Tuesday marked just the second time he has been out of the starting lineup dating back to his July 29 Major League debut.
Jason Heyward started in place of Constanza in right field Tuesday night.
Right shoulder continues to hamper Hanson
CHICAGO -- When Tommy Hanson opted to throw just nine pitches during a bullpen session Monday, he attempted to limit suspicion by saying he simply wanted to get a feel for throwing off the mound again. But when it came time for him to throw a longer bullpen session Tuesday, the Braves pitcher could not hide the fact his right shoulder is still bothering him.
After Hanson did not take the field to complete his scheduled bullpen session Tuesday, a Braves spokesman said the 24-year-old pitcher was sore from Monday's brief throwing session and would not be available for comment.
The Braves will continue to evaluate Hanson on a daily basis to determine when he might be able to start throwing again. But he definitely will not make Saturday's scheduled rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett.
This marks the second time this year that Hanson has battled right shoulder tendinitis. After missing two weeks, he returned to the rotation June 28 and felt tightness in his right shoulder. Still he produced two very impressive starts just before the All-Star break.
But while posting an 8.10 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .313 against him in five starts since the All-Star break, Hanson has not seemed right. After allowing seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mets on Aug. 6, he underwent another MRI exam and learned he was still dealing with tendinitis.
Mike Minor is expected to remain in the rotation at least until Hanson is able to return.
Hinske gets needed at-bats as Freeman rests
CHICAGO -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez knows Freddie Freeman has been one of his club's most consistent offensive threats over the past two months. At the same time, he understands the value of getting Eric Hinske some regular at-bats with the hope that it will enhance the great value he provides as a pinch-hitter.
Thus Gonzalez opted to rest Freeman during Tuesday night's game against the Cubs and give Hinske a start at first base. It was the veteran utility man's third start this month and his first since Aug. 10.
"We need to keep him fresh," Gonzalez said of Hinske, who has batted .179 (7-for-39) with two homers and 17 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter this year.
While batting .298 (14-for-47) as a pinch-hitter last year, Hinske benefited from more regular at-bats. Through the Braves' first 129 games last year, he had totaled 290 plate appearances and 253 at-bats. At this same point this year, he had totaled 233 plate appearances and 209 at-bats.
One of the primary reasons Hinske has drawn fewer opportunities this year is the fact that Freeman has made it difficult for the Braves to keep him out of the lineup. The 21-year-old first baseman has hit .293 with 18 homers, which ties him with Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa for the most among National League rookies.
Freeman has batted .321 with an .884 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) over his past 86 games and .335 with a .930 OPS over his past 44 games.
"Freddie is a stud," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "The numbers that this guy is going to put up -- power, hits, RBIs, runs scored, any way you want to look at it -- he's going to do some special things. You watch this kid every day, not even mentioning his defense, he's going to be one of the best in this game."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.