Inciarte struggles to find form atop the lineup

Inciarte struggles to find form atop the lineup

LOS ANGELES -- The Braves were hopeful Ender Inciarte's return from the disabled list would create consistent production at the top of their lineup and subsequently provide Freddie Freeman more run-producing opportunities.

But nearly a month later, the Braves are simply hoping Inciarte soon provides at least a hint of the consistency anticipated when he was acquired from the D-backs.

"We've watched his video of the swings he took last year, and everything looks the same," Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. "He's pressing big time. Coming to a new team, he wants to do well and wants to be an impact guy. When a team struggles, players put even that much more pressure on themselves."

Inciarte gained a chance to free his mind, as he was not in the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers. The 25-year-old outfielder has batted .205 with a .282 on-base percentage in 125 plate appearances this season. He played just two games before a hamstring strain sidelined him for a month and delayed his opportunity to acquaint himself with his new environment.

When Inciarte initially struggled after ending his month-long disabled list stint on May 7, there was reason to believe he simply needed some time to get back in a groove. But despite the fact that he has provided great value with his glove in center field, his extended struggles at the plate have made it more difficult for fans to patiently await him to live up to the expectations set when hit .303 with a .338 on-base percentage while playing his first full big league season with the D-backs last year.

"I think his at-bats the past few games have been better," Seitzer said. "It's like with pretty much everybody else in our lineup, he just needs something to fall."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.