McLouth gains early confidence
There was some good hitting, bad pitching and shoddy defense during Monday’s 13-3 win over the Astros at Disney. But for the Braves, the most important development came courtesy of the fact that Nate McLouth reached safely in each of his four plate appearances.
No, that didn’t match the amount of times he reached base during the entirety of last year’s exhibition season. It just seemed like it. But if you’re counting, his two hits accounted for one-third of the total he collected in 51 exhibition season at-bats last year.
“My first hit was a bloop hit, but at least it didn’t take me nine games to get it,” McLouth said in reference to his first-inning bloop single to center.
The fact that McLouth can at least attempt to poke fun at last season’s struggles seems to indicate that he’s much more relaxed than he was at any point last year. Instead of trying to avoid his struggles, he’s accepted the challenge of overcoming them.
Chipper Jones said he is looking forward to seeing if McLouth continues to take a more aggressive approach in the batter’s box. As his confidence continued to take a beating last year, McLouth seemed far too indecisive at the plate.
During Monday’s fourth inning, he looked at a hittable 2-0 pitch and then laced an opposite-field RBI double to left field.
“He’s made some adjustments at the plate,” Jones said. “He’s starting with some rhythm and getting something going, as opposed to starting from a dead standstill. We’ve got to get him a little more aggressive than he was last year. I don’t want to see him taking 2-0 and 3-1 pitches right down the middle, hoping for a walk. I want him to do damage.”
Now that the tarp has been removed here at Osceola County Stadium, McLouth and Jones will be among the Braves who will be taking their hacks at Astros right-hander Brett Myers.
This is Jones’ third straight start as the designated hitter. It will be interesting to see how his knee reacts once he starts playing the field and is forced to instinctively react to his right or left. But for now, it appears his knee is passing all of the necessary tests and producing nothing more than expected discomfort.
Kenshin Kawakami will arrive in the Orlando area tonight and be in camp for tomorrow’s workout at Disney. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about his future, or at least the club’s decision to remove him from the 40-man roster and put him on Double-A Mississippi’s roster.
Tommy Hanson will start. Jonny Venters, Stephen Marek, Michael Broadway, Jairo Asencio and Eric O’Flaherty are scheduled to pitch.