Uggla off to fast start; Diaz ends HR drought

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Dan Uggla hit his second home run in as many days during Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Phillies, and hopes his new approach to spring will him help avoid another of his notorious slow starts to the  season.

The second baseman is hitting .308 with team-highs of three homers, five extra-base hits and seven RBIs in 26 at-bats.

“The last few years I think I’ve been going about it too passively [in spring training], trying to see pitches instead of getting my timing,” Uggla said, referring to the practice of hitters taking or “tracking” more pitches than usual during spring training.

“You can track as many pitches as you want, but until you swing and you’re making contact it’s really tough to get that timing,” he said. “My 12th year [of pro ball], I finally figured out how to get a better approach in March. It’s weird.”

Diaz ends homer drought

After not hitting a home run during the entire 2011 season with the Pirates and Braves, Matt Diaz ended his drought with a two-out homer in the second inning Thursday against Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton.

“It’s been about 365 days since I got to circle the bases,” said Diaz, who laughed when asked if he remembered his last homer before Thursday. It was last spring training with Pittsburgh.

“Yeah, it was in Bradenton off of [Rays lefty David] Price. I remember the pitch, a 3-1 change-up.

“It’s been a while.”

Diaz was only 4-for-24 with one RBI before Thursday. He credited an adjustment made after some extra work in the batting cage Wednesday with hitting coach Greg Walker and assistant Scott Fletcher. They worked on staying inside the pitch, instead of trying to pull balls to left field.

The right-handed hitting Diaz also lined out to second base off Phillies reliever Chad Qualls to end the game, just after hitting a deep fly ball that sailed foul down the right-field line.

“I was probably more pleased with the line drive to second on a right-handed slider” than the homer, he said. “That ball was a one-hopper to the shortstop all year last year. Staying through the ball, I never could do that last year. I can now because I’m more flexible.”

Diaz lost weight and worked on his flexibility in the offseason after feeling as if his swing was hindered by added upper-body muscle last season.

Friday night lights

The Braves will play their second night game in three days Friday when Houston comes to Champion Stadium for a 6:05 p.m. start. The Braves don’t have another night game on the Grapefruit League schedule until March 30.

Tommy Hanson is scheduled to make his second start of the spring and first official start (his debut Sunday was rained out after one inning). He’ll face Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez.

47 comments Add your comment

Ball's-N-All

March 15th, 2012
7:08 pm

WTG Mr. Walker if you can help Matty to hit,we are in good hands far as hitting coach goes….WTG Uggs keep up the good work..

BigDawg

March 15th, 2012
7:18 pm

All the Braves need to figure things out!

Bat Masterson

March 15th, 2012
7:20 pm

Man if Uggla avoids his normal slow start, look out.

Bat Masterson

March 15th, 2012
7:21 pm

Nice to hear Diaz hit the ball hard, good guy, hope he does well

Reid in EAV

March 15th, 2012
7:23 pm

What Bat said! I had already counted Popeye out until at least May. :)

Delbert D

March 15th, 2012
7:54 pm

If I remember correctly, staying inside the pitch was the subject of Chipper observing Heyward in the cage. It was reported here on Dave’s blog.

Delbert D

March 15th, 2012
7:55 pm

Last year, that is.

phil

March 15th, 2012
8:00 pm

Another meaningless loss today….

Bob the Blogger

March 15th, 2012
8:13 pm

It would be nice to have another productive right handed bat since the Braves have so many left handed hitters. We need the Cave Man back to club the lefties.

proverbsI-23

March 15th, 2012
8:55 pm

Glad to see improvement..Walker is a positive influence where its hitting , fielding, in clubhouse etc super person.I believe J-Hey will also come around in few more games. Love the Young players Simmons, Durango, Parrzz ? and Sutton. Go Braves!

Jim

March 15th, 2012
9:29 pm

Just remember, you just don’t turn this stuff “on” when you decide you need to. Mindset is important, especially after last September.

GOP Cannon

March 15th, 2012
9:37 pm

Uggla is seeing the ball really well in spring training… did any of you guys see the homer that he hit off Strausberg? It was like the pitcher was throwing under handed to him, lol!

double

March 15th, 2012
9:45 pm

Errors & Excuses this team may surprise.

Mets R Best

March 15th, 2012
9:53 pm

Looks like your team will extend their choking right through spring training.

Alaska Braves Fan

March 15th, 2012
10:06 pm

Keeping a balance: It truly is important to stay between the white lines. This team has started slowly, and that may be a bad omen, but the balance part is to set aside the individual pieces and try to figure whether the whole team will produce some wins. Right now, I’m inclined to believe we’ll see a very good record by July. Playoffs? It’s a close call, but I do think we’ll make it. And, if we do, watch out! By then, we’ll have learned how to win by scratching out some runs while the starters and relievers keep us in the game.

ABF

Mister Frisky

March 15th, 2012
10:07 pm

Punked by Philly,as usual.Last place.

Tip O' the Cap

March 15th, 2012
10:09 pm

Urp… yes, I remember last my beer — a fine lager, she was. Dang good thing I didn’t have to wait a year to get it.

Who Me?

March 15th, 2012
10:13 pm

*yawn* Is it April yet? This losing stuff, its getting old and clearly FG isn’t even blinkin’ an eye. It’d be nice to get some effort once in a while from someone besides the middle infield. See ya in a couple weeks….

Who Me?

March 15th, 2012
10:19 pm

@Mets R Best – Those Amazin’ Mets are simply stunning having one exactly 1 more game than we have. Here’s a tip – get off our page and go hang out with your loser pals on the Mets blog site douchebag.

Who Me?

March 15th, 2012
10:20 pm

and of course i got so carried away I misspelled one instead of won. Think he caught it?

Another Day in the Life of J.S.

March 15th, 2012
10:23 pm

JS: Frank and Fredi, the fans are really concerned about all these losses. Why aren’t we winning more games? We need to give the fans some hope.
Frank: Fredi took my tinker toys and won’t give them back.
Fredi: He took my cap pistol.
JS: Geeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Eddie Matthews' Ghost

March 15th, 2012
10:29 pm

Sad results. Cannot even beat a split squad team from the Phillies. Sad, sad, sad. Nice to see old bulky kneed Chipper Broke Down Jones hitting a hefty .071. Nice. Quit now Chipper before your last year is .178, 3 dingers, 12 RBI and on the DL again. Quit now. Then they can play Martin at 3B and get someone to play LF full time.

danny

March 16th, 2012
12:59 am

I agree….Chipper should retire. He is hurting this team with his contract and us having to game plan around him and his injuries. I know he is old but if you have “sore thighs” in spring training, that tells me that you didn’t do any off season training. But he wants to play 90-100 games and make us have to piece together our line-up and defense the other 70 games. Thanks Chip

Mister Frisky

March 16th, 2012
1:25 am

Heyward,Diaz,Pastornickey,and the pitchers spot.That will make you forget Murderers Row.

Stinger2

March 16th, 2012
3:54 am

Great job by all the usual negative posts. Got anything new planned for tomorrow?

Reid in EAV

March 16th, 2012
5:43 am

Dear sweet Lord, why does ANYONE care about wins and losses in Spring Training? Hello? It’s all about individual performances and player development. No one gets a trophy, a contract bonus, or even much of a sense of accomplishment from winning the Grapefruit League. Many 100-loss Braves teams of the past finished near the top of the heap in Florida. It doesn’t mean JACK.

MikeY

March 16th, 2012
6:28 am

DOB, Isn’t Friday March 30 vs Houston a pair of (SS) night games? If the Braves have rescheduled that game to 1pm I am going to see Buffett that night in Tampa.

David O'Brien

March 16th, 2012
7:31 am

DOB, Isn’t Friday March 30 vs Houston a pair of (SS) night games? If the Braves have rescheduled that game to 1pm I am going to see Buffett that night in Tampa. — MikeY

Indeed, those are night games March 30. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

alanfalcon

March 16th, 2012
8:00 am

Frank, oh Frank where art thou, the Braves need you on the field to convence them they can win with last years players !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill

March 16th, 2012
8:20 am

Thank God for the Mets.I am afraid that’s the only thing keeping the Braves out of last place.The lack of hitting will doom a decent pitching staff.

Please,please,please someone step up and deliver this team from Liberty Media

Slim Shaddy

March 16th, 2012
8:26 am

What about the awful spring production for Chipper Jones,Jason Heyward,Tyler Pastornicky,and Freddie Freeman ? I thought Greg Walker was different than Larry Parrish ? He looks worse…

Kevin

March 16th, 2012
8:50 am

Found this online the other day, thought you all might enjoy it :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpyLCqrnOU

Kevin

March 16th, 2012
8:51 am

It shows Tim Hudson scaring the crap out of Eddie Perez, pretty funny stuff

Stank Wren

March 16th, 2012
9:41 am

Well at least Chipper is hitting a robust .071

Larry Parrish

March 16th, 2012
9:43 am

Hmmmmm…….Maybe I wasn’t the problem after all??? You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s#$%

pat

March 16th, 2012
9:54 am

AND Rot in HELL Liberty Media. We hate you, DIE.

Eddie

March 16th, 2012
11:23 am

Pastornicky looks pathetic at bat. I sat in second row behind the plate for the Yankee games, and you coud clearly see how far he missed the pitches. When he msde contact it was like a “weak sister”, no pop or energy. No threat at all.

stuper duper

March 16th, 2012
11:33 am

I think they go undefeated in the regular season.

stuper duper

March 16th, 2012
11:33 am

I think they go undefeated in the regular season.

stuper duper

March 16th, 2012
11:33 am

I think they go undefeated in the regular season.

historyman

March 16th, 2012
12:24 pm

Didn’t Scott Fletcher play at Ga. Southern?

Red Neckin' Fan

March 16th, 2012
3:23 pm

I got $76 if anyone else wants to go in with me and buy the Braves. If I sell my ‘89 Ford Ranger, I’ll have $96.

If we get a million fans to toss in that much, we ought be able to make ‘er happen.

Red Neckin' Fan

March 16th, 2012
3:23 pm

I got $76 if anyone else wants to go in with me and buy the Braves. If I sell my ‘89 Ford Ranger, I’ll have $96.

If we get a million fans to toss in that much, we ought be able to make ‘er happen.

Red Neckin' Fan

March 16th, 2012
3:25 pm

Dang! That was so good a comment that DOB made it print twice! Git ‘er done DOB!

Red Neckin' Fan

March 16th, 2012
3:25 pm

Anybody seen my corn nuts?

Red Neckin' Fan

March 16th, 2012
3:34 pm

“Did Scott Fletcher play at Georgia Southern” – History Man

Er, ain’t too sure about that but there was a Scotty on Star Trek years ago. Don’t recall much of it due to the moonshine poisoning. Only way to feel better from that is to drink more moonshine.

Spank Aaron

March 16th, 2012
3:36 pm

Hey DOB, the Braves are DOA this season.

GO Tigers!

Add your comment