Adjustment paying off for Braves’ Ramón Laureano, who has three doubles in win

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ramón Laureano hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Truist Park, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Atlanta. The Braves won 7-0. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ramón Laureano hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Truist Park, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Atlanta. The Braves won 7-0. (Jason Getz / AJC)

NEW YORK – The Braves – and more specifically, minor-league hitting coordinator Chris Antariksa – wasted no time in trying to help Ramón Laureano improve.

“Right after I signed, in one minute, he reached out to me,” Laureano said.

Antariksa wanted to connect with Laureano, who had just inked a minor-league deal with the Braves. Laureano and Antariksa hopped on a video call, where Antariksa talked to Laureano for three or four minutes about the work they would complete.

Laureano had experienced success in his first few big-league seasons, but for a number of reasons, had struggled since then. Something Laureano felt held him back: He was opening his front side when hitting.

So Laureano worked on this with Triple-A Gwinnett. And during that time, Antariksa made trips to two Stripers series and helped Laureano, who had struggled with his front side opening since the start of 2021.

“Pretty quick, easy adjustment,” Laureano said.

Last season, Oakland, with whom Laureano debuted, designated the outfielder for assignment. Cleveland claimed him off waivers and he posted a .724 OPS over 41 games for the Guardians. He had a slow start to this season and Cleveland designated him for assignment on May 20.

When Laureano was available as a free agent, the Braves didn’t heavily weigh the small sample size of plate appearances – only 83 – he had to begin this season. The Braves asked Laureano if he’d be willing to go to Gwinnett to work on things in hopes of getting his bat going, and he did. They signed him and in 14 games with Gwinnett before they called him up, the 29-year-old hit .362 with a 1.027 OPS.

“He’s a good little ballplayer,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said before Friday’s series opener at Yankee Stadium. “I know probably offensively, it hadn’t gone want the way he really wanted this year. But I’ve been very impressed with him over the years when we’ve seen him on other teams. He’s an athletic guy, really good outfielder, throws well. As we saw, he has some power.”

In Wednesday’s win over Detroit, Laureano homered. On Friday, he made his fourth start. The right-handed hitting Laureano will primarily start against lefties. He’s one of a group of guys trying to help fill the void left by Ronald Acuña Jr., who’s out for the season after tearing his ACL.

“I feel as confident as I can remember,” Laureano said after making the offensive adjustment.

And in Friday’s win over the Yankees, Laureano went 3-for-5 with three doubles. He drove in one run. He’s 6-for-17 with three doubles, a home run and two RBIs since joining the big club.

Before the Braves’ series opener here, Laureano said he believes he can return to his old form – the guy who had an .800 OPS, 49 home runs and 150 RBIs over his first 313 big-league games. “Easy,” he said. It comes down to health, he added.

“In my head, I’m that guy (from the successful seasons), but obviously you gotta show it,” Laureano said. “The other thing is, I’m in no rush. I’m just being myself every day and controlling what I can.”

And he’s healthy. This is important for a guy who hasn’t had the best injury luck.

In 2019, he went on the injured list with a stress reaction in the lower part of his right leg. In 2021, a right hip strain forced him to the injured list and MLB suspended him for violating its PED policy. In 2022, Laureano went on the injured list due to a left oblique strain. In 2023, he went on it with a strained left groin before fracturing his hand a couple months later.

And in 2021, during his suspension, he had surgery to address a sports hernia.

When Laureano was suspended by MLB for taking a banned substance, he released a statement and said, in part, that he didn’t knowingly ingest nandrolone, which is an anabolic steroid.

On Friday, when asked about how he moved forward from that incident, Laureano said the injuries were tougher than the PED suspension.

“I didn’t think anything of it. Which, I think of a lot things, (but) I didn’t think anything of it,” Laureano said of the suspension. “I just moved on because in this game, I gotta move on all the time. I had some time to decompress from that. I’m like, ‘Well, people are going to think whatever about you.’ It’s not in my control. I have great family support.

“And also, I was dealing with some injuries. And that was actually more frustrating than the (positive PED test). I could not control the other one, the PED one, but I was trying to control my injuries and stuff like that. I was going from a surgery. But it is what it is. I don’t make excuses. I play hard every day and that’s what I wanted to do. But we’re in the present, we’re healthy now and we’re in a great organization and we’re getting the opportunity to play and win some games.”

Laureano might have something more in his bat than he displayed to begin this season. And he provides the Braves with good outfield defense and an above-average arm.

Laureano described the Braves as a “very veteran” group. “They win ballgames and they have big goals,” he said. And their stars don’t appear to have egos, which aligns with Laureano.

“That’s how I am, you know?” he said. “It’s like back in college or back in Little League. You’re just helping each other, and we’re going after it together.”