DENVER -- As Dansby Swanson continues to reacquaint himself with the Major Leagues and make the adjustments necessary to prove he can be successful at the highest level, he draws upon the mental strength he receives through his daily practice of writing positive thoughts and reading motivational books.
"Baseball will eat you alive if you let it," said Swanson after Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Rockies. "Being able to constantly tell yourself that you believe in yourself and what you're doing. It literally makes all the difference in the world."
Though he tried to remain positive, Swanson was victimized by baseball's cruel nature, as he struggled through most of the season's first four months before getting demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 26. The highly-regarded Braves shortstop returned to the Majors last week, and has steadily provided some signs of encouragement, including Tuesday when he highlighted a multi-hit game with a two-run double.
"I feel good with what I'm doing," Swanson said. "I'm confident, and I believe in what I'm doing. Going down there just gives you a sense of what works for me, and how can I do that consistently? I've got a plan, and I'm just trying to execute it every at-bat and every pitch. It's been working out so far, and I'm going to strive to be even better."
Swanson's multi-hit game -- his first since the day he was sent to Gwinnett -- helped fortify that confidence that has been tested, as the shortstop is batting .213/.283/.311 during his first full season in the big leagues. He has five hits in his past 12 at-bats, and, more importantly, a sense that he is now mentally where he needs to be as he attacks his daily challenges.
"Some of it is just fueling yourself with positive thoughts every day, and hearing the right things and filtering out the bad things and understanding those good positive things reinforce good behavior," Swanson said. "That's honestly been the biggest thing moving forward. I believe in what I'm good at, and I just try to go out there and do it."
When Swanson's stint in the Minors was cut short because of a knee injury sustained by Johan Camargo last week, he didn't allow himself to be bothered by chatter of a premature return. Swanson simply focused on his responsibilities as Atlanta's starting shortstop, and dwelled on some of those positive thoughts he often composes after games and sends to a select group of friends with the hope of helping them get through their own daily challenges.
Swanson is currently reading "Seven Days in Utopia," a fiction book about a professional golfer who begins to melt down after going through a rough stretch. The story has given the Braves shortstop further reason to believe it's always best to play to your own strengths.
"I think when you have that mindset, it just pays dividends and gives yourself clarity," Swanson said. "Whenever you have clarity moving forward, it's everything."