Prado more relaxed in second trip back to Atlanta
ATLANTA -- Although Martin Prado still has plenty of admirers among Braves fans at Turner Field, coming out of the visitors' dugout is a little bit easier this weekend than it was when the D-backs visited Atlanta in late June last season.
"This year is real normal," Prado said. "It took me a while to get it over with, but now I feel pretty good."
Prado appreciated the warm reception he received on Friday night, saying it is "always special" to return to the place where he got his start in the Majors. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson believes Atlanta's affection for Prado is much deserved.
"He's a good guy," Gibson said. "He walks in every day and either hugs or shakes everybody's hand. That's who he is. He's well respected. Everybody loves him. The fans love him here. You can tell."
Prado enjoys visiting Turner Field, a venue where his 378 hits since 2008 are the most by any player in that span. The D-backs hope the visit can perhaps spark Prado, who is hitting .217 (18-for-83) since June 9, like it did a year ago.
The third baseman was slumping in his first season as a D-backs when he returned to Turner Field for the first time on June 28, 2013, since he was sent to Arizona as part of the January 2013 trade that brought Justin Upton to the Braves.
He was batting .241 (71-for-294) with 32 strikeouts and a .638 OPS before he went 4-for-11 in Atlanta to begin a tear during which he hit .321 (101-for-315) with an .854 OPS and only 21 strikeouts in 345 plate appearances.
Although he finished 1-for-4 with a run scored in Friday night's 5-2 loss to the Braves, Prado doesn't think he needs a trip to Atlanta every time he needs to overcome a slump. In Saturday's 10-4 loss, he went 1-for-4 again and hit into two double plays.
"I'm not hoping that this has to happen again to turn it around on offense," Prado said. "I should've turned it around since Day 1, and it didn't happen. I'm not looking for to see what happened last year. Last year, that's passed. I'm looking for to be more consistent with my swing and get better at-bats and get some results for my team."
But Prado did admit he has been comfortable at the plate in Atlanta this weekend.
"I felt pretty good," Prado said. "I feel my balance and everything just coming back. I think I was reaching for a lot of balls. I was just drifting a little bit with my front leg, but it's a lot of mechanic things. I don't want to think about mechanics. Just go to home plate and swinging the bat. If I see a good pitch, I'll swing."
Gibson added: "Martin, you've got to pull him back. He wants to work too hard. He wants to hit after the game."