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Ozuna snaps out of skid in powerful fashion

Ozuna snaps out of skid in powerful fashion

MIAMI -- Part of the appeal of Marcell Ozuna is you never know what you're getting every night at the ballpark.

The enigmatic 23-year-old endured a rough West Coast trip, going 5-for-28 (.179) with a home run and two RBIs.

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Ozuna's struggles carried into the first game of the homestand, in Miami's loss to the Phillies, when he went hitless in three at-bats.

But just when it looks as if Ozuna needs a couple of days off, the center fielder catches fire. Heading into Friday night's series opener with the Brewers, Ozuna was 4-for-8 with a grand slam, two-run homer and run-scoring single.

"I think it's confidence for him," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a young guy. There are adjustments to be made at different points of the season. There's going to be times where he's going to struggle. But then we've all seen his ability and what he's able to do. When he gets hot, he's as good as anybody."

The raw talent is obvious with Ozuna, who also has the strongest outfield arm in the organization.

Ozuna now has eight homers and 30 RBIs in his first 46 games. As a rookie in 2013, he appeared in 70 games and had three homers and 32 RBIs.

The batting averages are about the same. In '13, he hit .265, and this season he is at .261.

Ozuna's strikeouts, however, are up this year, as entering Friday he had 43 in 165 at-bats, compared with 57 in 275 as a rookie.

"I'm working hard every day," Ozuna said. "I watch video. In the Minor Leagues, I'd get in a slump and it was two months to get out of a slump. Now I feel like I get a slump and come back real quick."

Christian Yelich, like Ozuna, has had his ups and downs. The two spent substantial time together in the Minor Leagues. They won a championship together at Class A Greensboro, and they finished runners-up in the Florida State League at Class A Advanced Jupiter.

Now Yelich is in left field, and Ozuna is in center.

"He and I both have struggled this month, and we've spent a lot of time together in the cages," Yelich said. "This is my fourth year playing with him -- we know each other pretty well. I was like, 'Hey man, stick with it,' and he has. He's been trusting that he's a good player -- he'll be fine."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Less