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J-Up finding swing deep in spring campaign

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Justin Upton has been around long enough to not be bothered by what transpires during the early weeks of Spring Training, but he also understands the potential benefit of exiting the Grapefruit League season with some momentum.

"It's always good to have good at-bats," Upton said. "When you start squaring balls up consistently for a few days, you know that you're starting to find a little bit of rhythm. You just try to maintain that as long as possible. Hopefully, you start getting hot now and you roll it into the season."

Upton began his Grapefruit campaign with just four hits in his first 28 at-bats. But despite going hitless in Friday's 3-0 loss to the Tigers, he has recorded four hits, including two doubles and a number of loud outs over the course of his past 14 at-bats.

Mets center fielder Juan Lagares robbed Upton of a home run during the first inning of Thursday's game in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and caught another of the Braves outfielder's long drives along the warning track in the third inning.

Upton then found a couple of holes as he singled and doubled in his final two at-bats on Thursday.

"Those at-bats were about as good as I've seen him take," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If he stays right there in the middle of the field like that, he's going to be a tough out. His at-bats are getting better and better. That's a good sign to see at this point in Spring Training."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
Read More: Atlanta Braves, Justin Upton