DETROIT -- As the Braves were flying from Denver to Detroit in preparation for this weekend's series against the Tigers, hitting coach Greg Walker suggested batting Dan Uggla second in an attempt to create some more run-producing opportunities for the middle of the lineup.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez heeded this suggestion by putting Uggla in the second spot of his lineup for Friday night's series opener at Comerica Park.
"[Uggla] draws bases-on-balls and we need somebody to get on base in front of Justin [Upton]," Gonzalez said. "So, why not? [Walker] and I talked about it on the plane ride here a couple days ago. You know me -- I listen to my coaches. For every reason not to, there is every reason to put him in there."
Uggla has set a new franchise record for strikeouts in both of the past two seasons, and he entered Friday hitting .185 with a .312 on-base percentage. But the veteran second baseman did lead the National League in walks last year and had drawn a team-high 12 entering this series.
The second spot in the lineup is not exactly foreign to Uggla, who primarily batted in that spot during his first two full Major League seasons. The lineup's fifth spot is the only one where he has tallied more at-bats during his career.
The Braves leadoff hitters have batted .195 with a .268 on-base percentage, and the second spot in their lineup has produced a .138 batting average with a .263 on-base percentage. Consequently, Upton, the third hitter in the lineup, has batted .316 with 11 homers and just 16 RBIs.
Upton has notched 92 plate appearances this year. Just 14 of those have been recorded with a runner in scoring position and 34 of them have been completed with a runner on base.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.