Tag:True Grit
Posted on: February 17, 2011 6:50 pm
 

McLouth comeback essential to Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There is no surefire, guaranteed path to success for the Atlanta Braves this season. But one sure way to make things easier is center fielder Nate McLouth bouncing back from a miserable 2010 and again becoming the player he once was.

McLouth last summer suffered a concussion, played in only 85 games and batted a career-worst .190 with a .298 on-base percentage. Both were career lows.

"I'm thankful for a clean start," McLouth says. "I'm ready to get this season kicked off and move on. Last season was tough, but the minute I stepped out of the clubhouse, I left it behind.

"I actually backed off of hitting a little this winter because you get so many swings down here. I backed off what I've done in the past."

The hope, he said, is less is more. No more paralysis by analysis. Even in baseball, sometimes there is such a thing as overpreparing.

"I'm definitely guilty of that," says McLouth, whom the Braves project as their center fielder and No. 2 hitter (behind Martin Prado). "When I don't feel right, I tend to overdo it. Last year, I wasn't feeling right and I almost paralyzed myself I was working so much."

McLouth, whom the Braves acquired from Pittsburgh in June, 2009, for pitcher Charlie Morton and two minor leaguers, suffered the concussion last June 9 (he was hitting .176 with a .295 on-base percentage at the time) and didn't return until July 21.

"The main thing I noticed was, I wasn't ever close to full strength after that in terms of endurance and body strength. For a month or two after, I couldn't lift of work out. I felt slow.

"It was nice to be able to work out this offseason."

There's no guarantee that McLouth will be able to return to his 2008 form, when he hit .276 with a .356 OBP and led the NL with 46 doubles, but if he can get close, the Braves will take it.

"I think we're all optimistic that Nate's too good a player, and has been over the course of time, to think what we saw last year is what should be expected," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren says. "He's another guy where we've seen him over the course of the winter, and his demeanor and his presence ... everything's changed from a year ago."

Sunblock Day? There already have been more nice days in the first week in Florida than all of last spring combined. Sunny and mid-70s. Pass the sunblock.

Likes: Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. on Hall of Famer Stan Musial and what he means to St. Louis: "To think of what he has meant to the Cardinals, not only during his playing days, but subsequent to when he played. And every time he comes on the field and makes an appearance, the place reveres him and lets him know that." ... The Sweet Potato-Encrusted Yellowtail and the Pumpkin Coconut Whatever at the delicious Leftovers Café in Jupiter, Fla. The fish was excellent, and with a name like that, you had to order the dessert. Think pumpkin pie without the crust. ... The ribs and bread pudding at Lee Roy Selmon's Barbecue in Tampa. Mmm, mmm, mmm. ... Really liked True Grit. The girl, Hailee Steinfeld, was incredible, especially given all of the difficult dialog she had to deliver. ... Dog show in Lakeland, Fla. Over 4,000 dogs here. Not going, just like hearing it. My dog, Slugger, would be so proud.

Dislikes: Oh, Miguel Cabrera. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"May the good Lord shine a light on you
"Make every song you sing your favorite tune
"May the good Lord shine a light on you
"Warm like the evening sun"

-- Rolling Stones, Shine a Light

 
 
 
 
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