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Triple to right an encouraging sign for Uggla

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Braves second baseman Dan Uggla homered in the second inning of Monday's rain-shortened 4-0 win over the Astros. But it was the opposite-field triple he hit the next inning that gave him reason to be even more encouraged with the wider stance he recently began utilizing.

"I've hit way more homers than I have doubles and triples into the right-center-field gap," Uggla said. "Going the other way, that's not really my game."

While Uggla hit .179 with 22 home runs last year, he occasionally showed the ability to run into a pitch like he did with the solo shot he hit to left field against Astros starter Darin Downs. But when he lined a two-run triple to the right-center-field gap, he showed the kind of patience and plate discipline that has been absent as he has batted .185 during a 236-game stretch dating back to June 5, 2012.

"That was about as good of a pass as I have seen him take in a long time," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That ball stayed on a line and stayed true. He hit it hard. That's a really good sign. … Sometimes you hit a ball to right field and it just dies. This ball was a laser. "

Uggla is still getting used to this wider stance, which he believes will give him more time to track pitches. He entered Monday with zero hits and five strikeouts in his previous nine at-bats. But the result of Monday's third-inning at-bat gives him reason to believe this adjustment will continue to pay dividends as he gains more comfort with it.

"I'm not re-inventing myself by any means," Uggla said. "But I'd like to better myself."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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