"This is a day I don't ever want to miss," said Freese, who grew up a Cardinals fan in suburban St. Louis. "I know one day it's going to come to an end, but as many times as I can I'd like to be a part of this special day."
Freese said he was 100 percent, adding "I feel like it's February." Freese hit .293 last season with career highs of 20 homers and 79 RBIs while topping 100 games for the first time.
"If he wasn't 100 percent, he wouldn't be here," manager Mike Matheny said. "So he's ready to go and we're excited to watch him do his thing."
Matt Carpenter started five games at third while Freese was out and was on the bench. Carpenter is hitting .320 with four RBIs.
Freese strained his lower back tumbling into the stands while chasing a foul ball during spring training and missed the first six games. He appeared in three games with Triple-A Memphis on a rehab assignment and was 3 for 5 with two RBIs Sunday against Oklahoma City.
St. Louis optioned infielder Ryan Jackson to Memphis to clear a roster spot.