BOSTON -- As Eric Hinske prepared to serve as the designated hitter in Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox, he was hoping to soon put an end to what has been the most frustrating stretch of his career.
Everything seemed to be right for Hinske when he notched his second multihit performance in a three-day span with four hits against Rockies on May 4. But before recording a double and a two-run triple in Sunday's 9-4 loss, he had recorded just four hits in the 58 at-bats that followed.
"I've got a mechanical problem with my swing and it's nobody's fault but my own," Hinske said. "This is the worst stretch of my career and I'm just trying to fix it."
While watching video, Hinske has clearly seen that he has not been keeping his hands inside the baseball. With his bat too often wrapping around pitches, the left-handed slugger has made a habit out of grounding out to the right side of the infield.
The opportunity to add an extra position player to their lineup in American League parks was not necessarily been beneficial to the Braves this year. Their designated hitters batted .156 (5-for-32) during the nine Interleague road games they played this year.
Heyward making aggressive decisions on basepaths
BOSTON -- Jason Heyward has deservedly received a lot of attention for the way he has been swinging the bat lately, but the right fielder has been equally impressive while showing off his tremendous athleticism with aggressive decisions on the basepaths.
"He might be the best baserunner out there right now," third-base coach Brian Snitker said. "He's fearless."
Heyward sparked the Braves' offense in Tuesday's win over the Yankees when he turned an apparent double into a triple to start the third inning. During the sixth inning of Friday's win over the Red Sox, he alertly tagged and went from second to third base after Cody Ross stumbled while making a catch in right field. Then during Saturday night's loss, Heyward again went from second to third after Adrian Gonzalez caught a pop fly by the tarp located in foul territory behind first base.
"I figure I'll use my legs while I still can," the 22-year-old Heyward said with a smile.
Heyward entered Sunday having hit .379 with a .410 on-base percentage and .741 slugging percentage in his previous 16 games. His batting average jumped from .235 to .270 during that span.
Hudson still dealing with left ankle discomfort
BOSTON -- When Tim Hudson starts Tuesday night's game against the D-backs, he will be dealing with the same left ankle discomfort that has bothered him for more than a month. But he would much rather deal with this pain once every five days than undergo a surgical procedure that would sideline him for two months.
Hudson's left ankle discomfort is a product of bone spurs that have bothered him a little more than they had over the previous few years. The 37-year-old pitcher will have them removed during an offseason surgical procedure, and he has not entertained the thought of missing more time this season.
"Because [my ankle] is a weight-bearing joint, it would be a two-month thing," Hudson said. "If it was an elbow or a wrist, it would be like a month or not even. It's not a big deal. It's just another offseason surgery. I've got to get my 200-inning oil change every year."
Since missing most of this season's first month while recovering from offseason back surgery, Hudson has posted 3.88 ERA in 10 starts. His ankle was bothering him so much before his June 5 start against the Marlins that he told former Braves long reliever Livan Hernandez to be prepared to make an early entrance.
Hudson completed a five-hit shutout against the Marlins that day and has posted a 2.25 ERA while limiting opponents to a .205 batting average in three starts this month. He said the ankle has become a little less bothersome as the past couple weeks have progressed.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.