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Dan Uggla Must Step up Production for Atlanta Braves

March 5th, 2013 at 8:56 AM
By Cody Fields

The Atlanta Braves must send a very clear message this year: Dan Uggla cannot have another year like his 2011 and 2012 seasons. He doesn't even need to replicate his 2010 season in which he hit .287; he just needs to be consistent.

The warning signs should be going off in Atlanta. The only consistency Uggla has shown in Spring Training has been in striking out.

True, he just hit his first homer of the year, but other than that, he has two hits in 20 other at-bats with 11 strikeouts. His average is sitting at .143, but what he has to say about it is even scarier.

"I'm right on schedule," Uggla said on braves.com. "Last year was a little bit different. I don't know if I've ever had a Spring Training that good before. I don't know if people expect me to come out of the gates hot. That's just not the way I'm going to be. That's just not the way I was made. It's always a process. As long as I'm making progress like I have been doing, I'm where I want to be."

The only schedule Uggla looks like he's on is to cruise past the 168 strikeouts he recorded last season. If he keeps up this "torrid" pace, he may even break his record lows in average (.220) and homers (19) from 2012.

Of course, it would help to have a manager willing to light a fire under him, but that's not happening either.

"He's willing to put in the hard work and [hitting coach Greg Walker] is in his corner," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We're still in the first week of March. Nobody is panicking or being concerned. If he keeps going about his business the way he has been going about his business, he'll be fine."

Yes, just keep doing the same thing and see how barely scraping .200 with a $13 million salary works for you.

Uggla is already projected to hit seventh in the lineup this year. Don't be surprised if he gets benched earlier than September if this keeps up.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Dan Uggla, MLB

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