LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After striking out with great regularity over the past week, Dan Uggla repeatedly said he was not worried. But the Braves' second baseman certainly displayed some relief after hitting his first home run of the Grapefruit League season during Sunday's 6-1 win over the Tigers at Champion Stadium.
"It felt good," Uggla said. "Spring Training for me where I'm at in my career, it's a process. You want to be hitting your stride right as camp breaks. I [couldn't] care less about stats. I know other people are looking at it like 'Oh my gosh, what is he doing?' They can press. I'm not going to press. This is normal for me."
Uggla entered Sunday hitting .111 (2-for-18) and his second-inning strikeout against Tigers starter Max Scherzer was his sixth in a span of eight at-bats dating to Wednesday. Thus it is safe to say the veteran second baseman released some frustration when he drilled his sixth-inning solo home run off of left-hander Duane Below.
"He's willing to put in the hard work and [hitting coach Greg Walker] is in his corner," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We're still in the first week of March. Nobody is panicking or being concerned. If he keeps going about his business the way he has been going about his business, he'll be fine."
Based on what he had experienced in the past, Uggla was encouraged when he batted .277 with six home runs and five doubles in 65 at-bats during last year's Grapefruit League season. But all of this Spring Training success was forgotten as he produced career lows in batting average (.220) and home runs (19) last year.
"I'm right on schedule," Uggla said. "Last year was a little bit different. I don't know if I've ever had a Spring Training that good before. I don't know if people expect me to come out of the gates hot. That's just not the way I'm going to be. That's just not the way I was made. It's always a process. As long as I'm making progress like I have been doing, I'm where I want to be."