The Union Recorder

Local Sports

April 2, 2013

Braves' new-look lineup shows power potential

(Continued)

ATLANTA —

A strong start for Uggla is especially important. He hit only .220 with 19 homers in 2012, ending a streak of five straight seasons with more than 30 homers.

Uggla, who hit only .200 in spring training, knows a slow start this season will raise more concerns. He walked and scored two runs while hitting sixth.

"You always want to get off to a good start," Uggla said. "I'm sure everybody wanted to see me hit .350 in spring training. This is only one game, though. I feel great."

Uggla and the two Uptons each had more than 150 strikeouts last season. The new third-base platoon also has the potential to add strikeouts as well as homers.

"I think these guys, including myself, we're still learning, we're still competing to get better and cut down on strikeouts but we've got a lot of power," Uggla said.

Freeman hit fourth, the spot manager Fredi Gonzalez could eventually give to catcher Brian McCann, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. McCann could come off the disabled list by the end of April, but by then Gonzalez might have difficulty removing Freeman from the cleanup spot.

Gonzalez said Braves hitting coach Greg Walker believes Freeman, 23, "is the best young hitter he has ever worked with."

Freeman hit 23 homers with 94 RBIs last season.

"The sky is the limit for him," Gonzalez said.

Uggla believes the sky is the limit for the full lineup.

"We're not trying to hold back," he said. "If it costs some strikeouts in situations, then that's what it's going to take, because we have the power to go blow for blow with anybody."

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