WASHINGTON -- Dan Uggla has given the Braves reason to keep him out of the lineup for a day or two with the hope that the break will help him escape a maddening six-week slump. But manager Fredi Gonzalez believes the best way to help Uggla break out of his funk is to keep playing him on a daily basis.
"My biggest thing is as long as he is confident and has that competitiveness. ... We've seen it and lived through it last year," Gonzalez said. "I think history makes you remain patient."
After Uggla struck out in each of his four at-bats during Wednesday's loss to the Giants, sitting out of Thursday's lineup wouldn't have been out of the question. But with Tim Hudson on the mound, it would have been viewed as a defensive risk to give Tyler Pastornicky his first career start at second base. Pastornicky only recently started learning the position while playing with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Though Uggla had batted just .108 with a .180 slugging percentage in his previous 34 games, Gonzalez was not solely influenced by patience when he kept his veteran second baseman in the lineup to face Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Friday night. Uggla entered the game with seven hits, including two home runs and two doubles, in 13 at-bats against Strasburg.
"As long as his health is good and his spirit is good, keep running him out there," Gonzalez said. "I know his numbers are good against Strasburg. Hopefully, that will jump start him."
Through his first 89 games this year, Uggla batted .216 with a .348 on-base percentage and .381 slugging percentage. At this same point last year, he was hitting .183 with a .258 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage.
Before hitting .377 during his 33-game hitting streak last year, Uggla batted .173 through his first 86 games.
"What he did last year is off the charts," Braves hitting coach Greg Walker said. "He's got it in him, there's no doubt. He's fighting, and that's all that I can ask."