NEW YORK -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not enjoy calling Dan Uggla into his office last weekend to inform him that he might not be in the lineup as frequently over the remainder of the season. But it appears the Braves are already benefiting from this tough-love decision.
Since being left out of the lineup for the first three games this week, Uggla has been showing signs of improvement at the plate. After recording two extra-base hits during Friday night's 3-0 win over the Mets, the All-Star second baseman told reporters, "I'm back."
Uggla was indeed back in the lineup for a fourth consecutive game on Saturday afternoon against the Mets.
Uggla showed some encouraging signs when he lined out to left field on Wednesday and then hit an opposite-field double in Thursday's win over the Rockies. During Friday's victory over the Mets, he doubled to left in the sixth inning and then hit his 18th home run of the season in the ninth inning.
"You can see him trying to come out of it," Gonzalez said. "Those are good signs. [Braves hitting coach Greg Walker] and I are encouraged about that."
When Uggla was initially told that he might not play as frequently, he said he did not believe numbers mattered in September and indicated that this is the time of year that teams needed to stick with their top veterans. Still, the fact that he had hit .157 with a .596 OPS in his past 78 games entering Saturday gave the Braves plenty of reason to explore other options.
But it appears they are hoping to be able to stick with Uggla as a regular in their lineup. The veteran second baseman entered Saturday having recorded a hit in seven of the previous eight games that he had started and with five extra-base hits -- two doubles and three home runs -- in his previous 31 at-bats.