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Dan Uggla Breaks out of Season-Long Slump

June 13th, 2011 at 9:43 AM
By Cody Fields

Dan Uggla's usual cold April seems to have finally come to an end in mid-June.

The Atlanta Braves second baseman, who had been hitting a scant .170 at the conclusion of the series finale in Florida on Thursday, is now 5-for-11 in the first three games against the Houston Astros.

 "Danny's swinging the bat well," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Sunday's win. "We're starting to see some good signs."

These signs include a double down the left field line on Friday, just his second extra base hit in Uggla's last 22 games at the time. Uggla then put an exclamation point on his recent tear by belting a home run in the first inning Sunday on a mistake off-speed pitch by Brett Myers.

"My timing has been better the last couple of days," Uggla said. "When you're on time, you're going to give yourself a chance."

Uggla has also shown greatly increased patience at the plate recently. Fangraphs reports that Uggla has swung at 8 percent more pitches this year over last, resulting in fewer quality swings and a lower average on balls put in play – from .330 last year to .200 this year.

Over the weekend, however, Uggla has drawn three walks to bring his total for June to four. His on-base percentage has risen from .234 to .253.

"The way I can tell, the biggest difference is the way I'm taking pitches now," Uggla said.

Gonzalez also believes Uggla's newfound patience is helping.

"That's a sign for me that he's seeing the ball better than he has," Gonzalez said. "The work he's putting in is paying off. Usually when hitters go in slumps, they're not seeing the ball. They try expanding the strike zone and get themselves in bad hitter's counts."

With one more game Monday  at the hitter friendly Minute Made Park, the Braves return to Turner Field, where Uggla has traditionally raked with a career .290 average and 15 homers in 75 games.

With his recent hot streak, Uggla feels this may be the light at the end of the tunnel.

"The confidence is rising… one day at a time," Uggla said.

Tags: Atlanta Braves, Dan Uggla, Fredi Gonzalez

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