.217. That was center fielder Nate McLouth's batting average hitting second in the batting order.
.320. And that was his average in the first week of hitting eighth, where manager Fredi Gonzalez moved him beginning April 17, in a move that was designed mainly to jump-start right fielder Jason Heyward's bat.
Heyward, in fact, didn't spring to life until after he was given the start off last Thursday. McLouth's average took off immediately, and he's had three doubles in the week since the switch.
What that means is that he's on base for the pitcher hitting behind him. It would be a greater advantage if the pitching staff were better bunters, although right-hander Cristhian Martinez laid one down in Monday's 5-3, 13-inning loss to the Padres. Unfortunately, it was a sharp one, and McLouth was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice, leaving Martinez at first.
"The single worst thing that could have happened," Gonzalez said later. Martinez, unaccustomed to being on base, flubbed his base-running and made the final out of what was a promising inning.
But back to McLouth, who is held in disdain by Braves fans for last year's batting slump. One might think his willingness to spend the bulk of 2010 at Class AAA Gwinnett to work on his swing would rate some respect. No.
Nothing against former hitting coach Terry Pendleton, who is now the first-base coach, but McLouth's hitting has looked up since he hooked up with new hitting coach Larry Parrish. They're on the same wavelength; it's that simple.
McLouth came into Tuesday's game hitting .300 (9-30) on the road trip but was only 0-for-4 in the 8-2 win over the Padres.
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