Mar 17, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the game against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 3/19


MLB

Perseverance paying off for prospect La Stella

If Tommy La Stella realizes a childhood dream that developed as he was denting his basement walls with line drives, there is a good chance he would become the first player to reach the Major League level with the help of a donkey.

Mar 16, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella (84) hits an RBI double during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As La Stella has impressed during his first big league camp and created further reason to wonder when he might be given a shot to serve as Atlanta’s starting second baseman, he has not lost sight of what he learned when his parents forced him to get a job after he abruptly quit playing baseball during the summer leading into his senior year at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J.

“It was really a perspective issue,” La Stella said of his decision to briefly stop playing. “It was one of those things where I really didn’t understand just how blessed and fortunate I was to be able to do what I had been doing. It took me stepping away from the game and realizing that I’m very lucky and fortunate to be able to do.

“Thank God for my parents, because they made me go out and get a job. Getting the job really gave me the perspective I needed to really get back into it and realize that I have a gift and [I was] wasting my talent.”

When La Stella decided that baseball was denying him the chance to partake in the summer fun some of his friends were enjoying leading into their senior year of high school, his parents did not allow him to remain idle. Instead, they led him through a job search that ultimately landed him employment at a farm stand.

Along with delivering bales of hay that would be used for Halloween arrangements, La Stella had a wide range of responsibilities, none of which was more influential than the task of feeding an uncooperative donkey.

“Every night when I would go to feed this donkey, as I was carrying that bucket of food out there, I was thinking, ‘What am I doing?’” La Stella said. “I could be playing ball, and I could be going to college the next year. That was where I rediscovered my passion [for baseball].”

 

Gwinnett Daily Post

Uggla finding his groove at the plate

The Atlanta Braves had their only day off in Florida on Tuesday, but idle time wasn’t what Dan Uggla needed right now.

The veteran second baseman is hopeful that he’s finally ready to start hitting like he once did.

Uggla had a homer and triple on Monday in a 4-0 victory by the Braves over Houston at Kissimmee, Fla., in a game called after five innings because of rain.

That gave Uggla three homers and 10 RBIs for the spring in 15 games and his average was .273. He had struck out 13 times, but also drawn nine walks.

Uggla, who has spread out at the plate and worked on his set-up, hit just .179 last year and was left off the postseason roster.

 

Atlanta Bullpen

Should Offensive Approach Change?

The Atlanta Braves have been a highly successful organization  the past 20+ years.  Despite that success, I think it is legitimate to question their organizational approach towards offense.  Again.

Pitching and defense have always been the Braves number one priority.  They have done a great job with that philosophy, developing top pitchers in their minor league organization and stressing defensive fundamentals.

Questioning the Braves offensive approach is not something new…

What I don’t understand is why the Braves continue to build the offense around the home run when Turner Field is not home run friendly.  Fan Graphs ranked Turner Field only the 19th best home run park in major league baseball in 2013.  I can understand why the Braves featured the home run when they played in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, affectionately known back in the day as “The Launching Pad.”  But why now when Turner Field is not a home run friendly park?

Even when the Braves played at Fulton County Stadium during their run of Division Championships and featured the home run, they often were inept offensively in the playoffs.  Teams with great pitching and defense need offenses that are consistent, not explosive.  Home run hitting teams score runs in bunches and go through droughts.  Teams built around on base percentage and speed aren’t as explosive, but are more consistent.

Tags: Atlanta Braves