LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Instead of sticking with his normal approach to look at a number of offspeed and breaking pitches during Spring Training, Dan Uggla entered the exhibition season determined to time the fastball first and utilize the same aggressive approach he uses during the regular season.
Opposing pitchers have paid the price.
Uggla claimed his latest victim on Sunday afternoon when he helped the Braves post an 11-1 win over the Astros courtesy of his two-run homer in the first inning off Zach Duke. The blast was his sixth, giving him a career-high total in what is shaping up to be the most impressive spring of his career.
"I'm feeling good," Uggla said. "It's a nice feeling to be squaring up balls in spring. We've still got a little over a week left. I've just got to keep working and hope everything is in whack when the season starts."
Uggla had hit five home runs while batting just .206 (14-for-68) during the 2009 exhibition season. The .313 (15-for-48) batting average he owns with a little more than a week left puts him in position to better the career-best .270 (20-for-74) mark he posted in 2006, when he had to fight to make the Marlins roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick.
"He's swinging it good," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's got a good approach going right now. He's got that approach that we saw during [last year's] 33-game hitting streak."