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Duvall looking to rebound after hitting .132

Veteran struggled after coming to Atlanta from Cincy in Deadline deal
@mlbbowman
March 3, 2019

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A pair of at-bats registered during an early March exhibition game will not completely erase concerns about Adam Duvall’s attempt to rebound from last year’s disappointing season. But the two homers Duvall hit during Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Marlins enhanced both his confidence and

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A pair of at-bats registered during an early March exhibition game will not completely erase concerns about Adam Duvall’s attempt to rebound from last year’s disappointing season.

But the two homers Duvall hit during Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Marlins enhanced both his confidence and the likelihood the Braves will continue to provide him a chance to prove he is capable of providing value to their bench during the upcoming season.

“Any time you can hit two homers in a game, obviously you’re doing something right,” Duvall said. “I was excited about that because I hadn’t had much success early here in spring. So to do that and really drive some balls was rewarding.”

Duvall’s second-inning homer off Dan Straily was a high fly ball that benefited from the jet stream that often assists balls hit toward Champion Stadium’s left-field corner. His sixth-inning solo shot off Tyler Kinley was a barreled line drive that cleared the left-field wall.

Given that Duvall tallied a second consecutive 30-homer season for the Reds in 2017, you might assume a pair of Spring Training home runs would not elicit an overwhelming sense of excitement. But this multihomer game was a satisfying one for the 30-year-old outfielder, who tallied just one extra-base hit while hitting .132 and producing a .324 OPS in 57 plate appearances after being acquired by the Braves before last year’s Trade Deadline.

Duvall's most recent homer had been tallied during the Reds’ July 25 win over the Cardinals. To put it another way, the guy who homered once every 17.7 at-bats from 2016-17 had gone 78 at-bats without a homer.

“It feels like about five years, to be honest,” Duvall said. “When you’re used to driving the ball and hitting home runs, when you go that long without hitting a homer, you know it.”

As Duvall entered Sunday hitless in his first 10 at-bats of this spring, there was at least reason to wonder if the Braves would keep him beyond Tuesday, which stands as the last day a team can release a player on a non-guaranteed contract and owe just 30 days’ termination pay. Any of these players released after Tuesday and before Opening Day would receive 45 days’ termination pay.

If Duvall continues to show signs he’s capable of providing power, potential and above-average defensive value at each of the outfield positions, the Braves would be comfortable committing to his $2.875 million salary. But given that he produced a .639 OPS last year, struggled to get acquainted with a backup role and started this spring slowly, there’s still no guarantee he’ll be on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster.

But Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has been pleased with the changes Duvall has made with his hands in an attempt to regain some consistency this season. The two homers provided an indication the outfielder might indeed get his wish to simply get back to who he was before things went sour late last season.

“It’s definitely good for his confidence,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “As guys work hard, you like to see them get results when they’re putting that time in. I’m going to try to get him a couple at-bats again tomorrow. If they get some positive things going, I want to try to build on it.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.