LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jason Heyward’s first home run of the spring came against Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday, and he added a line-drive double off the right-field wall in the same game.
But in the other four of his past five games before Friday, the right fielder was 0-for-15 with five strikeouts. Heyward was hitting .176 (6-for-34) with two doubles, one homer, two walks and 12 strikeouts.
Hitting coach Greg Walker cautioned at the beginning of camp that there would be some rough days on the road to getting him back to being a consistent offensive force. Heyward said things clicked in the game against Washington.
“Timing was there,” he said. “I’m not necessarily worried about a swing – the swing path and all that is there. It’s just timing.”
He crushed a Strasburg homer for a fastball, and the left-handed Heyward later doubled off lefty Tom Gorzelanny.
“It’s good to be timed for a fastball, especially one at 96 [mph],” Heyward said, “and then take the next at-bat against a lefty and lay off some of the pitches and still be timed to hit and jump on one when he came in the zone.”
He followed his best game of the spring by going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Thursday against Philadelphia, striking out twice against righty Joe Blanton.
“Just give it time,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said.
Uggla was out of the lineup for a rest Friday after playing seven games in a row. He homered Wednesday and Thursday and was second in the Grapefruit League in slugging percentage (.424), tied for second in homers (three) and tied for fifth in on-base percentage (.424) before Friday…. Martin Prado was fourth in average (.367) and tied with Uggla for fifth in OBP…. As a team, the Braves ranked 29th in the majors with a .227 average and 26th in OBP (.312) despite leading the National League with 54 walks before Friday.