May 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) is congratulated by second baseman Dan Uggla (26) after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Braves defeated the Reds 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
His average at .163 after another hitless game on May 1, Dan Uggla had almost nowhere to go except up.
Seven games later, the Braves' second baseman is finally on the high side of the Mendoza line.
Uggla was 10-for-27 (.370) in the stretch after a hit and two walks at San Francisco on Thursday night, raising his average to .212. And with two triples and three homers, he matched his extra-base hit total for the previous 24 games.
"Still a work in progress, but definitely going in the right direction," Uggla said. "Just feeling more and more comfortable each time up."
Trying to get Uggla going, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker went all the way back to 2006 to show him the way he used to do it at the plate.
"He was a good hitter then, not just a slugger," Walker said of a rookie season with the Marlins in which Uggla had a .282 average.
That is Uggla's second-best average ever, topped only by the .287 mark in 2010 that helped him get a big contract from the Braves after a trade.
But he hit just .233 in his first season with the Braves and fell to .220 a year ago, when he also dropped from a career-high 36 homers to career-low 19.
It had been more of the same this season until the past week, when some of the work with Walker may have started to sink in.
Both of Uggla's triples went to right-center field and he had a great at-bat on his second of two homers at Cincinnati on Wednesday, working a 0-2 count full before going deep.
-- RHP Tim Hudson still has a lot of fans in the San Francisco Bay Area for his years as ace of the Oakland A's staff. In fact, his old fans from across the bay have to believe they played a role in the right-hander's recent milestone when he recorded his 200th win last week. Over six years, 92 of those wins came wearing the green and gold of the A's. But here's one aspect of Hudson's impressive all-around game that he probably didn't learn in Oakland: hitting. He totaled just three hits in those six years with the A's. Meanwhile, in his 200th win alone on April 30 against Washington, he had a double and a home run.
-- RHP Julio Teheran has pitched a lot better this season than his numbers indicate. His relatively high ERA (4.84) is mostly a reflection of his first three starts, during which he gave up 13 runs in 16 innings. But the Braves won all three games, so Teheran did his job. There's no doubting that has been the case in his last three starts, during which he has limited opponents to just six runs in 19 innings. The Braves have won those games as well. The biggest difference in the two stretches: walks. He has given up just one free pass in the last three games after surrendering seven in the first three.
-- RHP Craig Kimbrel didn't have to sweat much to earn his 11th save of the season in a 6-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, but he'll take it nonetheless. It allowed him to enjoy his 100th save all the more. That's right: 100 saves before the age of 25. He and Francisco Rodriguez are the only relievers in major-league history to achieve that milestone at such a young age.
-- OF Jason Heyward began an injury rehab at Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. It's early, but here's the first conclusion: He's not close to rejoining the team. Oh, Heyward's stomach felt fine, which is good news being that he had an appendectomy on April 22. He struck out three times in an 0-for-5 performance, walking once. If it means anything, the Braves had catcher Brian McCann make a week's worth of rehab starts before promoting him to the big show.
-- C Brian McCann made his third start in four games Thursday since returning from a week long injury rehab last week. The Braves plan to be very conservative with McCann, who is coming off shoulder surgery. That probably means catching him in two of the four games of the Giants series, even if the Braves will be tempted to play him more after his 3-for-5, three-RBI outing Thursday. The Braves are still carrying three catchers, so that pretty much tells you how they plan to approach McCann's comeback, at least in the short run.
Quote to note
"I remember being here for in 2010 for the playoffs. It seems like yesterday. It's nice to get this milestone. Hopefully I can get quite a few more." -- RHP Craig Kimbrel, who became the second-youngest major-leaguer to record 100 saves when he closed a 6-3 win Thursday over the San Francisco Giants.