ATLANTA (AP) — Marcell Ozuna says he’s beginning to see evidence of his work to regain his timing at the plate after missing most of last season.
The Braves outfielder backed up that claim with his biggest hit of the season.
Ozuna hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and Atlanta recovered after blowing a three-run lead to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday night.
Travis d’Arnaud led off the seventh with a double to left field off Brusdar Graterol (2-3). Ozuna followed with his 14th homer to center field.
“It felt amazing,” said Ozuna, who is hitting only .227 but has hits in 29 of his last 37 games. “… I lost a full season last year, so it’s hard to get back in the timing.”
Ozuna was limited to 48 games in 2021 due to an injury and his May 29 arrest on charges of aggravated assault by strangulation and battery. In November, MLB suspended the 31-year-old Ozuna retroactively for 20 games under its domestic violence policy, allowing him to return for the start of this season.
“He’s had some big hits lately,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Ozuna. “He’s still fighting to get himself to where he wants to be, but in between he’s had some big hits for us.”
Graterol faltered in his first opportunity to show he can take a more important role in the back of the Dodgers’ bullpen after Daniel Hudson’s season-ending knee injury was confirmed before the game.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t identify who he expects to fill in for Hudson, but Graterol was considered a top candidate.
“Obviously the guys that are here are going to have an opportunity,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say who it is, but they’re going to have opportunities.”
Dodgers designated hitter Will Smith tied the game at 3 with a homer…