Inciarte showing signs of life after slow start

Inciarte showing signs of life after slow start

SAN DIEGO -- As Ender Inciarte's struggles mounted over the course of the month that has elapsed since he ended a month-long stint on the disabled list, he searched for answers and determined it was time to simply regain the same aggressive, care-free approach he displayed for most of the past two seasons while with the D-backs.

Inciarte's diligent efforts to turn things around were rewarded when he notched a season-high three hits and finished a home run shy of the cycle as the Braves snapped a 12-game Petco Park losing streak with Wednesday afternoon's 4-2 win over the Padres.

"He's a perfect guy to have [in the leadoff spot]," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I just feel good for him, because he's been working hard. It's good to see the hard work pay off."

Though there were concerns about his ability to hit left-handed pitchers, Inciarte showed the potential to be a leadoff hitter with Arizona last season, hitting .303 with a .338 on-base percentage. That was the role the Braves envisioned him filling for many years to come when he was acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent Shelby Miller to the D-backs in December.

But Inciarte's early days with the Braves were anything but kind. The skillful center fielder played just two games before straining his left hamstring, and when he returned to Atlanta's lineup, he proceeded to hit .198 with a .267 on-base percentage during a 27-game span that ran through Sunday.

Though Inciarte might not have been attempting to put extra pressure on himself while introducing himself to a new environment, he viewed this stretch as being similar to what he experienced when he hit .197 with a .230 on-base percentage through the first 30 games of his career, in 2014. He then proceeded to hit .296 with a .336 OBP over the remainder of that season.

"These past two series, I've been trying to get into a rhythm, because I want to do well and I want to help the team," Inciarte said. "It's not like I'm putting pressure on myself, but I expect a lot out of myself. So hopefully I'm going to get it going, and then hopefully we can start winning more games."

Inciarte provided some signs of encouragement during Monday's two-hit performance and then showed more of his capabilities on Wednesday, when he singled during a two-run first inning and then drilled a two-out triple that positioned him to score on Chase d'Arnaud's triple in the sixth inning.

"I'm trying to be more aggressive and let it go," Inciarte said. "The past month-and-a-half, my swing hasn't felt right, because I've been just trying to put the ball in play, instead of just trying to hit it hard somewhere. That's what I've been doing lately."

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