Swan­son sees last sea­son as growth, not fail­ure

The Standard Journal - - STATE SPORTS - By Nuby­jas Wil­born MDJ Sports Writer Dansby Swan­son has a pos­i­tive out­look af­ter last sea­son’s strug­gles.

AT­LANTA — A l ot has changed for At­lanta Braves short­stop Dansby Swan­son. This time last year, the Ma­ri­etta na­tive and Ma­ri­etta High grad had his face all over bill­boards and on com­mer­cials. The 24-year-old was asked to sell Sun­Trust Park as a home­town hero. On the field, he was hit­ting sec­ond and ex­pected to be part of a con­tend­ing team.

Swan­son’s strug­gles were well doc­u­mented, but his po­ten­tial come­back has been qui­eter.

“Last sea­son, ob­vi­ously, wasn’t what I wanted,” he said. “It was tough, but I learned from it. We all strug­gle at points in our lives. I’m grate­ful it hap­pened early be­cause you can build off that and learn your lessons and move for­ward.

“I don’t even look at it as a fail­ure. I look at it as growth.”

The for­mer No. 1 over­all pick’s fall from grace is a typ­i­cal tale. A prospect is hyped up and does not meet ini­tial pro­jec­tions. Pegged by many pub­li­ca­tions as a po­ten­tial Rookie of the Year can­di­date, Swan­son hit .185 in April. That prompted Braves man­ager Brian Snitker to move him down in the lineup in hopes of tak­ing the pres­sure off.

Swan­son took an­other step back in Au­gust and was sent down to Triple-A Gwin­nett. He was slightly bet­ter once he re­turned, but he fin­ished the sea­son hit­ting .232 with a .312 slug­ging per­cent­age and .324 on-base per­cent­age.

“He isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to strug­gle,” Snitker said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys get sent back down and then come up and fig­ure out. This is a very hum­bling game. He has the tools to make it right going for­ward.”

Swan­son also strug­gled with his field­ing, com­mit­ting 20 er­rors in the mid­dle of the Braves’ in­field.

“He wants to be good, and he works so hard,” Snitker said. “If noth­ing, he learned a lot from a tough sea­son. Now, he knows a lot more about what it takes to suc­ceed on this level.”

Braves third base coach Ron Wash­ing­ton wanted Swan­son to start his re­demp­tion tour with def ense. Wash­ing­ton i s known as an in­fielder guru from his work as a coach with Oak­land and man­ager for the Texas Rangers.

“I just wanted him to trust him­self,” Wash­ing­ton said. “I know he can play, and he knows he can play. Now he just has to go do it. The kid can play short­stop, and he’s going to be a short­stop for a long time to come. I’m around this kid, and I’ve seen his mind work.”

Swan­son, to his credit, has re­mained con­fi­dent.

“I know I can play the game of base­ball,” Swan­son said. “In­di­vid­ual stats come and go. The ul­ti­mate stat is win­ning and do­ing what you can do to win. It can be as sim­ple as be­ing in the right spot at the right time. Maybe it’s mov­ing a guy over. Some­times it’s giv­ing up an at-bat to get a guy in. That’s al­ways fu­eled me.”

Swan­son’s team­mates have no­ticed that his con­fi­dence has not eroded.

“He’s a very ma­ture young man,” first base­man Fred­die Free­man said. “Last sea­son was tough, but he never gave up. He al­ways showed up to do his work and was fo­cused. He had a lot put on him, and he didn’t quit when things got rough. That’s what you want to see. It’s im­por­tant to see how some­one han­dles ad­ver­sity.”

John Raoux / AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.