06/28/12 7:09 PM ET
Chipper's new routine: dance early, hit later
By Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
"It's fun just to see him getting his legs back under him and swinging like he has been," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "The last couple of years, he's been up and down. This year, he has had a solid year."
Jones' productive season was halted when he suffered a bad left calf bruise on May 18. When he returned on June 10, he struggled to find comfort at the plate. But since instituting this new pregame ritual, he has started finding some success on offense again.
Before recording three hits in Tuesday night's win, Jones attempted to keep his teammate's loose by playfully mimicking some of the pregame rituals executed by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. His creation led him to pick each of his legs up in a stretching-like motion while hopping around in a circle just before he and the Braves took the field to start the game.
With the team having won on Tuesday, he was given no other choice but to repeat the exercise before Wednesday's game. After drilling the decisive two-run home run a few hours later, he said, "I started something I can't stop."
"I'm just doing something to help keep the guys loose," Jones said. "That's what it's all about. The more relaxed they are, the better they're going to play."
Given there will be some nights like Thursday, Jones said he won't be performing this ritual on a nightly basis. But Ross said he might be among those willing to pinch-hit and potentially benefit from the magic.
"If he keeps hitting homers and getting hits, I might start doing it," Ross said.
Uggla could get a game off this weekend
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez seems to be leaning toward giving Dan Uggla a chance to rest during one of this weekend's games against the Nationals. Uggla has played in each of the team's first 75 games and has spent the past three weeks mired in a frustrating slump that has dropped his batting average from .276 to .238.
Since enjoying a four-hit game in Miami on June 5, Uggla has batted .113 (7-for-62) with a .313 on-base percentage and .177 slugging percentage. Still, the gritty second baseman has balked at invitations to spend a day resting his mind and body.
"It's no secret that I've had my struggles at the plate the last three weeks," Uggla said. "But I'm always going to fight, I'm always going to scratch, I'm always going to be in the game, I'm always going to do what I can do to help us win the game."
Such was the case against the D-backs on Wednesday night, when he ignored his offensive struggles and started a crucial inning-ending double play in impressive fashion. With two on and one out in the eighth inning, left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty thought Miguel Montero's sharp grounder was destined for right field.
But Uggla ranged to his left, slid across his left knee and abruptly rose to his feet while making an accurate throw to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who then completed the double play with his throw to first base.
"I don't even worry about Danny Uggla," Gonzalez said. "I've been with him for six years. I know what he's capable of when he gets his rhythm, and we keep supporting him like we have been."
Braves preparing for a scorcher this weekend
ATLANTA -- Temperatures in Atlanta are expected to be above 100 degrees throughout the weekend, clearly marking the arrival of summer in the South. The Braves are scheduled to play day games on Saturday and Sunday during their three-game series against the Nationals, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said he wants the club to use the heat to its advantage.
"We live here, we practice here and we do everything here," Gonzalez said.
With a high of 98 degrees on Thursday, the Braves cut 15 minutes off their batting practice. Gonzalez said they will likely have a similar schedule over the weekend.
If temperatures do rise above 100 in Atlanta this weekend, it will be the first time since August 2010 it has been that hot.
Gonzalez said he won't explicitly tell his team to hydrate, because there are already plenty of signs in the weight room and training room reminding them to do so.
Right-hander Tim Hudson is scheduled to start Sunday's game. After dealing with cramps multiple times in his career, he has taken to getting an IV before his starts to help stay hydrated.
"That's smart on his part," Gonzalez said. "He takes care of that, and I'm sure there's other guys that take heat precautions also."
Third baseman Chipper Jones said he will likely need to take one of the two day games off, and Gonzalez said catcher Brian McCann will also get a day off this weekend.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.