Braves' Uggla attempts to bounce back from miserable year
The Sports Xchange
MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - INSIDE PITCH
Dan Uggla was mad and embarrassed. How could he not feel that way. He wanted a chance to redeem himself in the postseason last year and didn't get it.
The Atlanta Braves and their veteran second baseman are trying to move on, though. For this season and next, they appear to be stuck with each other.
"Last year sucked," said Uggla, who batted .179 in 2013. "There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. But that was last year. You've got to let it go."
Uggla, owed $26 million for this season and next, arrived a spring training even before the pitchers were due to report, and he appears to have patched things up with manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"I'm going into the season thinking that Danny is going to play second base," Gonzalez said.
To hold the position, though, Uggla must bounce back and bounce back fast. The 33-year-old slumped in the second half of 2012 and never got going last year.
"I was in a bad place. A real bad place," Uggla said. "I got into so many bad habits. It's not just that my swing was messed up. My legs were messed up. My head. I was a mess."
The Braves hoped that laser eye surgery in August would help Uggla get back on track, but he may have rushed back too soon.
Now, Uggla has had time to adjust to his improved eyesight and put a few pounds back on after going on a fitness kick a year ago.
Uggla hit 22 homers in 2013, but he had an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of just .671 and led the National League with a strikeout every 3.14 at-bats.
Gonzalez went with since-released journeyman Elliot Johnson at second base for the National League Division Series and didn't even put Uggla on the 25-man roster.
"Just like anything else in life, you've got to deal with it like a man and put it behind you," Uggla said. "You don't necessarily forget about it, but you put it behind you and use it in a positive way."
So far, so good. Uggla drove in a run with a two-out hit in his first spring at-bat and was batting .300 (3-for-10) with four RBIs and three walks to three strikeouts in his first five Grapefruit League games.
MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Freddy Garcia, bidding for a spot in the rotation, didn't allow a baserunner in his first five spring innings. He retired nine consecutive Mets batters on March 3 after getting six Tigers in a row on Feb. 26 in the spring opener. Garcia, 37, signed a minor league contract with a March 25 out clause if he is not guaranteed a spot in Atlanta. "It's still a long spring, but he's been really, really impressive," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
--RHP Julio Teheran's first spring inning after a signing a six-year contract extension worth $32.4 million couldn't have been more impressive. He retired the Nationals in order on five pitches with a strikeout March 1. Teheran did allow a pair of two-out singles in his second and final inning, but he finished with 21 strikes in 30 pitches.