03/03/2013 6:20 PM ET
Uggla breaks out of his early hitting funk
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After striking out with great regularity over the past week, Dan Uggla repeatedly said he was not worried. But the Braves' second baseman certainly displayed some relief after hitting his first home run of the Grapefruit League season during Sunday's 6-1 win over the Tigers at Champion Stadium.
"It felt good," Uggla said. "Spring Training for me where I'm at in my career, it's a process. You want to be hitting your stride right as camp breaks. I [couldn't] care less about stats. I know other people are looking at it like 'Oh my gosh, what is he doing?' They can press. I'm not going to press. This is normal for me."
Uggla entered Sunday hitting .111 (2-for-18) and his second-inning strikeout against Tigers starter Max Scherzer was his sixth in a span of eight at-bats dating to Wednesday. Thus it is safe to say the veteran second baseman released some frustration when he drilled his sixth-inning solo home run off of left-hander Duane Below.
"He's willing to put in the hard work and [hitting coach Greg Walker] is in his corner," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We're still in the first week of March. Nobody is panicking or being concerned. If he keeps going about his business the way he has been going about his business, he'll be fine."
Based on what he had experienced in the past, Uggla was encouraged when he batted .277 with six home runs and five doubles in 65 at-bats during last year's Grapefruit League season. But all of this Spring Training success was forgotten as he produced career lows in batting average (.220) and home runs (19) last year.
"I'm right on schedule," Uggla said. "Last year was a little bit different. I don't know if I've ever had a Spring Training that good before. I don't know if people expect me to come out of the gates hot. That's just not the way I'm going to be. That's just not the way I was made. It's always a process. As long as I'm making progress like I have been doing, I'm where I want to be."
Minor dealing with confidence in Braves' camp
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves left-hander Mike Minor progresses through the early stages of Spring Training, he is fueled by the confidence he gained when proving to be one of baseball's best pitchers during the second half of the 2012 season.
"It's more of mindset than pitchability or location of pitches or anything like that," Minor said. "It's more of just recognizing situations and learning from it, rather than just being [mad] and thinking it's going to happen every game. Or as soon as something goes wrong, it's going to be a bad outing. That used to be in the back of my mind."
Minor displayed his maturation when he was unfazed by the one-out walk he issued to Torii Hunter in the first inning of Sunday's 6-1 win over the Tigers at Champion Stadium. The walk and Hernan Perez's third-inning single proved to be the only damage incurred by the 25-year-old lefty during his three innings of work.
"I don't think he missed the target today," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I know the second batter of the game, he walked. But other than that, he had all of his pitches working."
Minor was sharper than he was on Tuesday, when he issued a pair of first-inning walks and allowed two runs in his Grapefruit League debut against the Nationals. He recorded three strikeouts against the Tigers and six fly-ball outs.
"They hit a couple good balls to the outfield," Minor said. "But they were caught and they were outs. That's what happens when you put the ball in play rather than walking everybody."
As he compiled a 6.20 ERA through his first 15 starts last year, Minor lacked the confidence to be aggressive in the strike zone. But his mindset changed as he posted a 2.21 ERA in his last 15 starts of the season.
• Utility infielder Ramiro Pena left Braves camp on a positive note. After hitting a double in the third inning of Sunday's win over the Tigers, Pena flew to Phoenix, Ariz., to prepare to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. With Pena and Andrelton Simmons competing in the Classic, Tyler Pastornicky and Elmer Reyes will handle the shortstop duties for the Braves.
• Jonny Venters has produced consecutive scoreless outings since allowing two runs in his Spring Training debut on Feb. 24.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.