ATLANTA -- The struggles Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton have experienced this year have been more significant than anybody could have ever imagined. But with the postseason quickly approaching, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez still believes either of these two veterans are capable of becoming the latest player to become an unexpected star in October.
"The playoffs are a different season," Gonzalez said. "The [regular] season ends after 162 [games]. Guys who hit .400 during the season go 0-for and guys who are struggling are MVPs during the postseason. So hopefully, that is the case."
Since benching both two weeks ago, Gonzalez has started to give Upton and Uggla some opportunities over the past week.
Uggla started just one of the seven games played between Sept. 9-16. But the veteran second baseman's inclusion in Tuesday night's lineup against the Brewers marked his fifth start in the past seven games.
"B.J. and I have struggled more than we can ever imagine," Uggla said. "Believe me, it's not from a lack of work and effort. We've had so many blisters on our hands from hitting in the cage. But now it's time to stop working on things. You've got to realize who you are as a hitter and what kind of hitter you are and go with it."
Uggla was not happy with Gonzalez's decision to bench him after he hit .133 in the first 11 games he played after having his vision adjusted via LASIK sugery on Aug. 16.
The batting average he produced in 41 plate appearances during this span was not pretty. But he compiled a respectable .366 on-base percentage while getting used to his new vision.
"I wasn't getting any hits, but that was about as comfortable as I've felt all year long," Uggla said. "It [stunk]. You've got 40 at-bats under your belt and then all of the sudden, you get sat. But I'm not the manager."
Uggla entered Tuesday having recorded just two hits, including a home run, in the 13 at-bats he had recorded since he began seeing his name in the starting lineup again. While he might be feeling more comfortable at the plate, he is unable to ignore the fact that he has hit just .181 with a .678 OPS this year.
"I don't think I will forget what has happened this season, just because I expect so much out of myself," Uggla said. "But this is where I'm at. I've put in all the work."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.