Braves' Dan Uggla has much to prove after rough year

Gonzalez not giving up on former All-Star

ASSOCIATED PRESSFebruary 21, 2014 

Braves Uggla Baseball

JOHN BAZEMORE/Associated PressIn this Aug. 10, 2013 file photo, Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla reacts after striking out to end the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta. Uggla's average has been on a steady decline since moving to the Braves after five years with the Marlins. He hasn't hit above .233 since arriving in Atlanta.

JOHN BAZEMORE — AP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Here are some things every Atlanta Braves fans knows about second baseman Dan Uggla: Last season he batted .179, had his lowest on-base and slugging percentages of his career, and he struck out a team-high 171 times.

Here's something that manager Fredi Gonzalez also knows: He's not giving up on the three-time All-Star.

"People look at the strikeouts and the batting average, but he gets on base for us. That's important," Gonzalez said.

"I don't know if we are going to change anything. It's too early in camp for that."

Uggla's average has been on a steady decline since moving to the Braves after five years with the Marlins. He hasn't hit above .233 since arriving in Atlanta.

And he was left off the roster for the division series last October, a crushing blow for Uggla, who walked 77 times last year, down from 94 in 2012. His on-base percentage was .309, the lowest of his career.

"I had a bad year, nothing was going right," Uggla said. "I got over it and I just want to get on with the new season."

There were some hard feelings when he was left off the postseason roster but Uggla says he is over it and has something to prove.

Uggla showed up to Braves camp a week before the mandatory reporting date and has been a fixture in the batting cage. He said that finding his balance and adjusting certain things were important, but he's tried that in the past -- he's always swung from the heels. Gonzalez has said that he wants Uggla to feel natural.

Uggla batted a career-high .287 in 2010, his last year with the Marlins. Gonzalez thinks he is capable of doing that again.

"Something didn't seem right last year, Gonzalez said. "But you have to look at things other than the batting average. I don't know if he needs to take a different approach. You have to look at other things. I like his on-base percentage and he takes a lot of walks so you have to look at that."

Gonzalez also knows not to have unreal expectations.

"I don't expect him to be winning a Triple Crown or anything," Gonzalez said. "He's not Miguel Cabrera, but he can help us in a lot of ways."

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