08/29/12 1:30 AM ET
Uggla impresses Fredi, stays in lineup, delivers
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Encouraged by some of Uggla's at-bats in Monday night's 3-0 loss, Gonzalez opted to keep his veteran second baseman in the lineup for a second straight. But for the first time in his career, Uggla was positioned in the eighth spot of the lineup.
Gonzalez said Uggla did not complain when he was left out of the starting lineup twice over the course of the past week. The 34-year-old veteran entered Tuesday having batted .145 with five home runs and a .251 slugging percentage in his previous 69 games.
"He's been whatever you want," Gonzalez said. "Here's a guy who has been to the All-Star Game three times and he's got an ego. All good players have egos and feeling. But he has not said anything. That's why you cheer him on so much."
The Braves had some reason to celebrate when Uggla drilled a line-drive home run off Andrew Werner to begin the fifth inning of Tuesday's 2-0 win. It was the 1,000th hit of his career, a milestone celebrated with the bottle of champagne waiting for him after the game in his locker.
This was Uggla's 16th home run of the season. He would need an incredible power surge to hit 30 home runs for a sixth consecutive season.
"I feel fine," Uggla said. "I'm not going to hit .300, and 30 is going to be a stretch. So I'm concentrating on being that kind of player the rest of the way and pulling my weight."
Uggla singled to center during his first at-bat on Monday night and drilled a long fly ball that died at the center-field wall in the eighth inning. In between, he encouraged Gonzalez with an at-bat that concluded with a ho-hum check-swing fly ball to first baseman Jesus Guzman.
Gonzalez was happy to see Uggla track the pitch a little longer than he has with his aggressive approach most of this season.
"To the casual observer, it's just a fly ball to first base," Gonzalez said. "But I haven't seen that from him in a while. They say good hitters are not afraid to get jammed. So the next at-bat, he goes straightaway center and I'm going, 'OK, there's something there.' "
The decision to keep Uggla in the lineup led Gonzalez to give Prado his third start of the season at the shortstop position. This weakened the defense, which has benefited from the reliable defense provided by Paul Janish, who leads all National League shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage since the All-Star break.
Heyward's lefty-righty splits show sharp contrast
SAN DIEGO -- After Jason Heyward homered in each of the final three games of this past weekend's series in San Francisco, some fans wondered why manager Fredi Gonzalez had left Heyward out of the lineup for Thursday's series opener.
Looking to give Heyward a chance to rest, Gonzalez opted to do so when the Giants were starting left-hander Barry Zito. Other than the fact that the strong outfielder homered against another left-hander in Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, it seemed to be the best time to rest Heyward.
Heyward entered Tuesday night having batted .307 with 18 home runs and a .933 OPS in the 76 games he had played dating back to June 2.
In 165 at-bats against right-handed pitchers during this span, he has batted .358 with 14 home runs, a .422 on-base percentage and .703 slugging percentage. In 125 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, he has batted .240 with four home runs, a .294 on-base percentage and a .384 slugging percentage.
While Heyward certainly has some room to improve against left-handed pitching, he has already made some strides since the beginning of the season. In the 62 at-bats he compiled against southpaws through June 1, he batted .194 with two home runs, a .265 on-base percentage and a .323 slugging percentage.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.