Dan Uggla switched to a bigger bat Monday and hit a three-run homer with it the first time up. But the Braves second baseman quashed the notion that it was done because of a theory of how the heavier lumber might help his swing.
“There was no theory,” Uggla said Tuesday. “It was ‘what the hell?’”
As in, he had gone 1-for-24 with 10 strikeouts in his previous seven games, and was out of the lineup Sunday for the second time in four games. So he just wanted to try something different. Shake things up.
He switched from his usual bat, which measures 33-1/2 inches and 30-1/2 ounces, to one that goes 34-1/2 inches and 32 ounces. In his first at-bat with the bigger stick, he hit a three-run homer in the first inning of Monday’s 5-1 win against the Twins.
On Tuesday, Uggla didn’t want to go into other details about the bat, but said he would use it again Tuesday night.
The theory was that players sometimes switch to a heavier bat so that they wouldn’t try to swing so hard and would instead let their hands and the bat do the work, not their arms. Veteran Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson, a former major leaguer, said players would sometimes switch to a heavier bat against hard-throwing pitchers.
“Yeah, theoretically,” Uggla said, acknowledging the reasoning. “Unfortuately with me, I still try to swing hard. That’s why I’ve never been able to use a big bat. Chipper (Jones) always tried to get me to use a bigger bat, but I just couldn’t swing it. I’ve always been about bat speed.”
Jones used a 34-ounce bat most of the time, which by the the end of his career was 2-3 ounces heavier than most of his teammates’ bats.
“Chipper was all about using his hands, and just trying to touch (the ball),” Uggla said.”When you use a bat as big as his and you can actually get it through the zone, all you have to do is touch it. Especially when you’re as big as he is. And it depends on your swing, too.”
Until the last couple of decades, plenty of players used bats as big or bigger than the ones Jones swung.
“Yeah, nobody was throwing 100 (miles per hour) back then, except for Nolan (Ryan),” Uggla said. “Ninety-two was hard. Ninety-two is a thumber these days. Everybody throws 95 and above. Then they’ve got six different pitches they’re throwing with it. (Bleeping) hitting’s just getting hard.”
He laughed and added, “Whatever we’re teaching these pitchers as kids, we need to stop teaching it to them.”