Hinske hopes home run gets him on right track

Hinske hopes home run gets him on right track

NEW YORK -- Having played in three consecutive World Series from 2007-09, Eric Hinske understands how to deal with the increased pressure felt during playoff games. But before hitting a home run in the ninth inning of Saturday's 11-3 win over the Mets, there was some reason to wonder if Hinske would be part of the postseason roster if the Braves reach the playoffs.

When the Braves signed Lyle Overbay to a Minor League contract in August and added him to their expanded roster last week, it was in response to the fact that Hinske has endured one of the most frustrating years of his career. He had recorded three hits while compiling just 28 at-bats dating back to June 28, and his only other home run had come during a four-hit game against the Rockies on May 4.

"You want to feel good going down the stretch and you want to help the team win," Hinske said. "I hadn't had an at-bat in a while. I was just up there trying to be aggressive, and I got a good pitch to hit. I'm still preparing like I'll be used in a key pinch-hit situation."

Hinske hit 10 home runs while compiling 264 plate appearances last year. With 22 games left in this season, he had gathered just 138 plate appearances. While the lack of consistent playing time has hurt him, it has not damaged his selfless approach.

"We're winning and I'll do whatever I can to help the team win," Hinske said. "My personal situation aside, I'll do whatever they ask."

While this one home run does not necessarily guarantee Hinske would be on the postseason roster, it does certainly strengthen his candidacy. Overbay, who was released by the D-backs in July, has been hitless in three at-bats with the Braves.