Atlanta’s Duvall trying to rebound from dip in power
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Adam Duvall left Cincinnati and suddenly stopped hitting homers — and yes, he’s been well aware of the drought.
“It feels like about five years, to be honest,” Duvall said. “When you’re used to driving the ball and hitting home runs, when you go that long without hitting a homer, you know it.”
Duvall finally took a step in the right direction Sunday, homering twice for the Atlanta Braves in their 6-5 victory over the Miami Marlins. It’s only spring training, but for a lineup dealing with some early injury issues, any sign of a resurgence by Duvall would be quite welcome.
Duvall surpassed 30 homers for the Reds in both 2016 and 2017, but he managed only 15 last year, hitting none after July 25, a few days before he was traded to Atlanta . He went 7 for 53 with the Braves, managing only one extra-base hit, and he didn’t play in the postseason for the NL East champions.
“I kind of knew what he was capable of, really when we got him,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He wasn’t having the greatest year, but I’d seen him before, the last couple years. He did a lot of work this offseason, they’ve been doing a lot of work right now. I’m going to continue giving him a lot of at-bats, because he’s the kind of guy that can be a definite asset on your team if we can get him right.”
The Braves were solid offensively last season, led by slugger Freddie Freeman and Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. In the offseason, they signed Josh Donaldson to a $23 million deal for this year, hoping the slugger can recapture the form that helped him win MVP honors in 2015 while with Toronto. But Donaldson has dealt with hip, shoulder and calf issues in recent years, and he hasn’t played yet this spring.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, who had wrist surgery shortly after last season, hasn’t played either.
Duvall was hitless in 10 spring at-bats before going deep in the second inning Sunday off Dan Straily. He homered again in the sixth.
“It’s definitely good. That’s good, I think, for his confidence,” Snitker said. “As guys work hard, you like to see them get results, when they’re putting that time in.”
Duvall has never had a high average or on-base percentage, and his final line was ugly last year — a .195 average in 138 games for the Reds and Braves. His walk rate actually improved, but his power dipped, and it’s hard to say how he’ll perform in 2019. He was eligible for arbitration, and Atlanta brought him back on a $2,875,000 salary for this year.
“Not that I wanted to show anything — I just wanted to get back to being who I am,” he said. “So that’s what we’re all working toward.”
Playing time will be tough to come by for Duvall if he doesn’t hit. The Braves have outfielders Acuna, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis, all of whom made significant contributions last season. But Snitker sounds like he wants to give Duvall plenty of opportunities at the plate this spring, especially if he’s having success.
“Any time you can hit two homers in a game, obviously you’re doing something right,” Duvall said. “I was excited about that, because hadn’t had much success early here in spring, so to do that, and really put some barrels and drive some balls, was rewarding.”