Outfielders to Avoid in 2014
Justin Upton, Braves - Jasper Scherer (follow @jaspsch)
On paper, Upton had a productive season in 2013, compiling 27 home runs, 70 RBI and an .818 OPS. That’s all well and good for those who owned him last season, but there are several red flags for this upcoming season. Primarily, Upton fell off massively after his freakishly hot start. After blasting 12 homers in April, he managed just 15 more in the remaining five months, failed to bat above .300 in any given month, and hit .211 and .226 in May and June, respectively. Also concerning is Upton’s propensity to strike out; he did so 161 times in 2013. That all-or-nothing approach proved costly at times, and doesn’t lend much confidence going forward. Finally, Upton projects to bat second in the Braves lineup this season, meaning those hitting in front of him when the lineup swings back around areDan Uggla (.309 OBP in 2013), brother B.J (.268 OBP), the pitcher’s spot and Jason Heyward (respectable .349 OBP despite a .254 AVG). In other words, Upton won’t have a ton of RBI opportunities.
Atlanta Braves’ Dan Uggla To Be Better In 2014
He’s never been a good average hitter, ever. He’s known for his absolute monster home runs. Oh, and his very large arms for any baseball player, much less a second baseman. Over the past few seasons, he’s been known as a waste of money and a bust.
Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla is far from those last two characteristics. Just flip on the TV and watch the man play. In his three seasons with the team, there are few times that you will see him not give 110 percent out on the field. With every ball in play, he busts his tail down the line and runs through the bag. Now, is that alone worth the $13 million that the team is paying him? No way.
Heyward blasts monster homer in 5-2 loss to Tigers
LAKELAND, Fla. — Jason Heyward remembers his first home run in a major league uniform, a mammoth drive against Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer in a spring-training game at Lakeland in 2010. Heyward was a rookie and Scherzer was three years away from winning the American League Cy Young Award.
Heyward did it again Thursday at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium, driving a long homer onto the metal roof of the building beyond right field that houses the Tigers’ batting cages. It was a game-tying, bases-empty shot off left-hander Duane Below in the third inning of a 5-2 Grapefruit League loss.
“I saw it leave,” Heyward said, “but I did not see it land.”
Laird day to day with lower back strain
LAKELAND, Fla. — Gerald Laird was in obvious pain as he attempted to pack his bag before leaving Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday afternoon. But he hopes to return to action after resting his back over the next few days.
Laird exited Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Tigers after experiencing back spasms in the first inning. The Braves termed the injury a lower back strain and gave him a day-to-day status.
“It happened before, a couple years ago,” Laird said. “Once it releases, you usually don’t have any problems with it.”