BOSTON – Chipper Jones was 9-for-26 with two homers against Aaron Cook, who started Sunday for the Red Sox. The fact that Jones was out of the lineup and didn’t try to talk his way into it said something for how the 40-year-old third baseman was feeling.
“Yeah, I’m hurting today,” said Jones, who didn’t cite anything specific, but a general soreness after playing the previous two games — Friday as designated hitter and Saturday at third base. “[Manager Fredi Gonzalez] was going to give me the day off regardless.”
Since returning June 10 from his second stint this season on the disabled list, Jones has played (and started) in 10 of 13 games, and been given one day off in each of the past three series.
He is 7-for-37 (.189) with two doubles and two RBIs since returning from the DL, the doubles and RBIs coming in his past three games.
Slumping Uggla: Walks not much fun
Dan Uggla’s past month has been a microcosm of the Braves’ season, shifting from surge to slump without much of anything middling between.
After hitting .316 with five homers, 16 RBIs and a .789 slugging percentage in 12 games from May 26 to June 9, the Braves second baseman has hit .136 with no homers, one RBI and a .150 slugging percentage in his past 13 games, including no extra-base hits or RBI in his last 10.
“It sucks,” he said of going from streaking to skidding. “You’re rolling, you’re rolling, you’re rolling, then all of a sudden you have a game where you’re just locked in and you feel great for the next couple of days [but] get nothing out of it. The next thing you know, you’re battling. You’re getting pitched tough, and the one mistake [pitch] you might get you foul it back instead of hitting it over the fence.”
If it were another hitter, it might be more of a mental drain. But hot and cold streaks aren’t new to Uggla. Braves fans learned that in his first seaseon with the team in 2011, when he hit .173 with 12 homers and a .568 OPS in 86 games through July 4, then .301 with 24 homers and a .982 OPS in 75 games the rest of the season.
This latest slump has been a blip by comparison, so far. Neither Uggla nor Gonzalez is concerned.
“I don’t worry about him anymore,” said Gonzalez, Uggla’s manager for 3-1/2 seasons with the Marlins. “I’ve been with him so long, and everybody saw what he did last year.”
Uggla said during the last homestand, there actually was some middle ground, when he was on base via walks.
“The first [eight] games of the homestand, I probably got on base more just from walks,” said Uggla, who drew 12 walks in those eight games, and had three hits and 11 strikeouts during the homestand.
“I walked four times one game,” he said. “Then it was just like, oh God, where are the hits?”
Gonzalez said, “At the end of the year, all the [usual] numbers will be there.”
Uggla is walking and whiffing at the highest rates of his career, with 50 walks and 82 strikeouts. He leads the Braves in both categories as well as RBIs (42), and his 11 homers is tied for the team lead with Jason Heyward. Uggla began Sunday tied for third in the NL in strikeouts, only two behind leaders Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks.
He is hitting .244 — 13 points below his career average — but with a .370 on-base percentage that would be the highest of his career. Uggla is on pace for 112 walks and 184 strikeouts, which would easily surpass his career highs of 92 and 171.
He’s also on a pace for 25 homers, after topping 30 each of the past five seasons, and 94 RBI, three above his career average.
“[Walking] is not near as much fun, and it’s still frustrating when you’re not getting those base hits,” he said. “Or you might draw a walk to set up a double play…. But I’m going to get hot again. I’d just rather it be sooner than later.”
Hudson vs. Hudson
Tim Hudson (5-3, 3.88 ERA) faces Arizona’s Daniel Hudson (3-1, 6.60) in Tuesday’s series opener at Turner Field, after an off day in the schedule Monday. Tommy Hanson faces the Diamondbacks’ Trevor Cahill (6-5, 3.47) on Wednesday, and Jair Jurrjens starts Thursday against an Arizona pitcher still to be determined, in Jurrjens’ second start since returning from Triple-A.