Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez voiced his concerns over the Braves’ lack of offense after Saturday’s loss to the Phillies and then continued to do his part to change its course by shuffling his lineup on Sunday.
Gonzalez sat struggling Dan Uggla for the third time in 11 games, and he dropped Jason Heyward from the third spot in the order, where he’s been a fixture since June 29, against left-hander Cole Hamels. Martin Prado got his fifth start at second base this season. Heyward hit sixth for the first time since June 24 at Boston.
Entering Sunday, the Braves had scored two or fewer runs eight times in their previous 13 games.
“I wouldn’t call it desperation or panic or anything like that,” Gonzalez said. “I think if you don’t do something you’d be remiss. What’s the definition of insanity, do the same thing over and over again and come out with the same conclusion [while expecting something different]?”
Gonzalez gave the impression that the move with Heyward might be something he does against left-handers, whom Heyward is hitting only .215 (43-for-200) compared to .312 (87-for-279) against right-handers.
“Trying to lengthen the lineup a little bit,” he said.
The last time Gonzalez sat Uggla vs. Hamels on Aug. 7, he pointed to his career numbers against Hamels; Uggla is 8-for-55 (.145) against Hamels). This time Gonzalez spoke in generalities, which would seem to portend more time on the bench for the struggling second baseman. Uggla has hit only .152 (37-for-243) in his past 73 games since June 5.
“We’ll see how we take him as we go forward,” Gonzalez said.
Chipper Jones, who hit third for most of the first 18 years of his career, was back in the third spot for the eighth time this season.
Jones, who had two hits in two of the Braves’ previous three games entering Sunday, would rather talk with his bat right now than instigate a team meeting.
“Trust me, when I feel something needs to be said, I say it,” Jones said. “That’s my job. I don’t need to say anything right now, and I don’t want to. I’m not going to harp on the past. I’m not going to harp on yesterday. I’m not going to harp on tomorrow. We show up. We play the game as well as we can today, and let the chips fall where they may. Any approach other than that is not a good one.”
Jones concedes more talk just adds pressure.
“We are mindless numbskulls,” Jones said. “We need to think as little as possible. We’re routine-oriented. We’re very regimented. And any break in that makes us start thinking and then bad (things) start happening.”