Two-hit game might get pressing Prado going

PHOENIX — It might be natural to assume that Martin
Prado’s early-season struggles are in some way related to Justin Upton
and his 12-homer April. 

Might be. Prado?

“No,” he said
simply.

“That’s him. It’s not me. He’s a superstar.
Everybody knows that. I’m not. I just do my job. That’s all I do. It’s
not a surprise for anyone that he can do those numbers. He’s a guy who
can be over the top.

“I’m doing my thing. It’s just
not happening the way I want it. I’m doing everything I can to get the
feeling back,” Prado said.
 
Prado, the centerpiece of the D-backs’ return in the trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta in January, took a step in the right direction when he returned from a day off Sunday with his first two-hit game since April 12 in a 6-4 loss to the Giants on Monday.

Prado singled and hit his fourth home run in a four-run fourth while batting in the leadoff spot for only the second time this season. A team-first hitter, Prado likes to move the ball to right field, and opponents were pitching him inside to counteract that.

“I think he was thinking a little too much about hitting behind the runner,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “This gave him an opportunity to swing the bat.”

Prado admits that he has been pressing to make a good first impression in his first season with the D-backs, however unnecessary that might be given his All-Star resume and reputation.

“I feel like I
am trying to do too much. It’s just not happening the way I want it,”
Prado said.

His teammates are not concerned. The
D-backs know who they have, even if they have seen it only sporadically
so far. Willie Bloomquist likened Prado to a former Seattle teammate,
Edgar Martinez, and scouts compare him to Placido Polanco. 
 

“It’s tough,” catcher Miguel Montero
said. “When you come to a new team,
you want to show them what you can do. He really doesn’t need to show
us, because we know how good he is.”

Prado accepts that — to a
degree.

“There’s something else there,” he
said.

“I want my teammates to believe that I can help
the team. We’ll see. We’ll see by the end of the
season.”

Prado entered the first game of the Giants series with a .208 batting average while in
a 5-for-39 slide.

His record suggests it is just a
matter of time before he breaks out, though. Prado is a career .295 hitter with four double-digit-homer seasons since joining the Braves for good in 2009. He had career
highs with 42 doubles and six triples last
season.

“He’s a competitor,” Montero
said. “Obviously he’s trying a
little too hard. He wants to do good, and everybody knows he wants to do
good. At the same time, he needs to relax a little more and don’t put
pressure on himself. It’s easy to say.

“Like people tell me not to swing hard. It’s
easy to say. It’s hard to get it done. I know he is going to be fine. He
just needs to get a little streak going, a couple of bloopers here or
there, and then things are going to change. I’m not worried about him. I
know what he is capable of doing, and I know he is going to do
it.”

Prado has started at second base, third base and
left field in the first 26 games, and he also played an inning at
shortstop when needed April 13. He has not taken his hitting skid into
the field or the dugout, manager Kirk Gibson
said.

“As much as anybody I’ve ever been around in
that situation, his steadiness is very calming to his teammates. It’s
just a huge example,” Gibson said, referring specifically to the
D-backs’ game Saturday in which Prado was 0-for-5 and left runners in
scoring position three times.

“He’s not down there
sitting with his head in his hands. He’s not thinking about his last
at-bat. He’s right back up there, right next to me. He’s watching. He’s
talking to those guys. Playing great defense. That’s very impressive. It
takes special character to do that.

“I’m sure he is putting pressure on
himself. We all do. He’ll be fine. We’ll get him out of that. We’ll get
him back to where he needs to be.”

Meanwhile, Prado
keeps working.

“I’m not going to change anything.
It’sust one of those times. I’m just not getting results,” he
said.

“All that matters is that the team is playing
well.”