08/07/12 8:09 PM ET
Heyward thriving in No. 3 hole for Braves
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"He's taken to that spot," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "During our last homestand, I'll bet he scored five or six times on doubles from first base. Nobody else on our team other than [Michael Bourn] would have scored."
Gonzalez's memory is pretty good. Heyward entered Tuesday having scored from first base on something other than a home run five times in the previous five games.
Heyward showed off his graceful speed and hustle when he scored from first base on Brian McCann's seventh-inning single in Monday night's 6-1 win over the Phillies. The big outfielder slowed only momentarily as he neared second base and then turned on the jets after Nate Schierholtz allowed the ball to get past him in right field.
"He's an exciting player, and everybody is getting to see it," Freeman said.
Gonzalez admits that he has kept an open mind when constructing his lineup over the past couple of weeks. In other words, he has allowed himself to debate whether he would be better off filling the third spot with Freeman, who has batted .325 with a .418 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage in his past 42 games.
But while Freeman might be viewed as a player who could clog the bases because of his lack of speed, Heyward provides the Braves a player who can put himself in scoring position with a stolen base or simply take the extra base whenever given the opportunity.
Plus, Heyward has strengthened his position by batting .304 with 12 home runs, a .366 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage in the 56 games he has played since the start of June.
"We can sit here and argue about [batting Heyward or Freeman third] all day long," Gonzalez said. "But the thing we can't argue about are all of the runs he has scored from first or second base. That doesn't come up on the stat sheet."
Uggla out of lineup as planned vs. Hamels
PHILADELPHIA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez informed Dan Uggla before Monday night's game that he would not be in Tuesday night's starting lineup. After halting his struggles with a two-hit game on Monday, Uggla proved unsuccessful in his attempt to get Gonzalez to change his mind.
Gonzalez has been encouraged by some of the progress Uggla has made over the past couple of weeks. This is part of the reason he did not have any desire to give him a chance to alter his luck against Cole Hamels, who started on Tuesday for the Phillies. Uggla has batted .145 (8-for-55) with two homers in his career against Hamels.
"I told him I think he's had some great at-bats, but I didn't want Hamels [messing] him up," Gonzalez said. "It's like having good at-bats, and then you face a knuckleballer and they screw you up for a while."
Uggla was appreciative that Gonzalez informed him of his plans for Tuesday before Monday night's game. Since collecting four hits, including two home runs, in a June 5 win over the Marlins, Uggla has notched two multihit games, including Monday night's performance. In the 51 games played since then, he has batted .136 with two home runs, a .298 on-base percentage and a .213 slugging percentage.
"When you've been going as bad as I've been going, a lineout is going in the right direction," Uggla said. "It's been a grind to be me. Even when I've struggled in the past, I'm still hitting homers and driving people in."
Uggla has been working on regaining his timing with hitting coach Greg Walker. Much of the focus has been placed on getting his toe tap in sync again.
"I feel great in [batting practice] and I feel great in [soft toss] and everything I do," Uggla said. "It's just a matter of doing it in a game. Any time you get two hits in a game, it boosts your confidence level. I've been feeling better. I'm just going to keep rolling with it."
Tommy Hanson said he has experienced some relief since the Braves placed him on the disabled list last week with a lower back strain. There is a chance Hanson will be cleared to throw a bullpen session within the next few days.
During Monday night's win over the Phillies, the Braves went through a game without recording a strikeout for the first time since Aug. 15, 1995. It marked the fifth time they had done so since the start of the 1990 season. Tom Glavine started three of those five games.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.