LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The early word out of Braves camp was that Dan Uggla was more ripped than ever -- a seemingly comical claim, given Uggla's notoriously Popeye-like physique.
But Uggla did slim down some over the winter, and that has the effect of amplifying the look of his upper body.
"When your waist slims down a little bit, you look more jacked, I guess," Uggla said. "But I can't really tell the difference. I guess when I'm buttoning my pants, I can tell."
Where Uggla wants to see a difference is in his consistency from day to day, week to week, month to month. His 2012 month-by-month OPS counts -- .784 in April, .874 in May, .648 in June, .461 in July, .748 in August and .821 in September -- demonstrate just what a streaky season it was for him.
"As much as I felt great in the cage, felt great in BP and could hit homers to center field all day in BP, in the game, it just wasn't translating," Uggla said. "I made an adjustment at the end of the year and just concentrated on building off of that. I watched a lot of film from 2006, when I was more of a complete hitter and was using the ball foul line to foul line. Watched a lot of that and worked my butt off in the weight room."
He also reshaped his diet, leaning on some gluten-free input from Jayson Werth and eating more fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
"I went from 215 [pounds] to somewhere around 208, 206," he said. "Time will tell [if it has an effect]. I was playing at 205 and 210 in years past, normally fluctuating from 210 to 215. I hope I'll be quicker, faster stronger and have more energy."
Gonzalez tabs Hudson to start Grapefruit opener
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves have mapped out their rotation for the start of the season.
The Grapefruit League season, that is.
Fredi Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that Tim Hudson will be on the mound for the spring opener against the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Hudson will be followed by Paul Maholm on Saturday against the Yankees, Julio Teheran (with Sean Gilmartin in a piggyback role) on Sunday at the Pirates, Kris Medlen on Monday against the Marlins and Mike Minor on Tuesday against the Nationals.
What Gonzalez did not announce was his Opening Day starter, a subject of intrigue given the credentials of both Hudson and Medlen.
Looking at the schedule, it appears the Opening Day outlook would all depend on how the Braves handle their two off-days in March. If they keep their starters on regular rest throughout the Grapefruit League calendar, then Medlen would be lined up for the Opening Day start against the Phillies. But if the Braves use those two off-days to give their starters an extra day of rest, then Hudson would be lined up for the season opener.
Hudson will oppose the Tigers' Rick Porcello in the spring opener.
Constanza, Obispo no-shows due to visa issues
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves still have two no-shows in spring camp, with outfielder Jose Constanza and reliever Wirfin Obispo still stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa issues.
Constanza has a good shot of making the club as the fourth outfielder, though he is in competition with Jordan Schafer, who is out of Minor League options. Constanza's absence doesn't help him, but manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't seem to think it hurts him, either. After all, Constanza did play 30 games for Toros del Este in Dominican winter ball.
"I'm not too worried about Constanza because he just finished playing two weeks ago," Gonzalez said.
Obispo is a non-roster invitee who doesn't likely figure into the Opening Day outlook.
"Obispo is in our academy in the Dominican, throwing BP outside, so he'll be ready when he gets here," Gonzalez said.