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Heyward, B.J. Upton each record first hit of spring


BRADENTON, Fla. -- It did not take Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton long to avoid the possibility of experiencing a frustrating drought at the beginning of spring.

Heyward hit his first home run of the Grapefruit League season and Upton recorded his first hit in a Braves uniform during Sunday's 9-2 loss to the Pirates at McKechnie Field.

"It feels good to get it out of the way," Upton said. "It's just Spring Training., but it's good to know you can do it."

Upton, who signed a franchise-record five-year, $75.25 million contract in November, accounted for two of his team's seven hits. His first hit was a two-out, fourth-inning double to left field against Jonathan Sanchez. The veteran center fielder capped his two-hit performance with a sixth-inning single against Mark Melancon.

Heyward showed his great power by leading off the sixth inning with a laser shot that nearly reached the tall green wall located at least 20 feet beyond the center field fence. The 23-year-old right fielder also walked and recorded his first stolen base in the first inning.

"To do that, you've got to do some things right, especially to straightaway center field," Heyward said. "The biggest thing for me this year is adjustments and how quick I can make them."

Heyward went hitless in two at-bats during Friday's spring opener against the Tigers and then did not play in Saturday's game against the Yankees.

"In game one, I felt my timing was a little off," Heyward said. "So yesterday on the day off, I worked on my timing a little more. I tried to get a little more comfortable with it."

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