For nearly two seasons, Dan Uggla has performed under expectations for the Atlanta Braves. For better or worse, Fredi Gonzalez stuck with him, but on Monday, Gonzalez informed Uggla that he had been benched, Dave O'Brien reports.
Uggla will now serve as the backup second baseman to Martin Prado, though it will be unlikely that Tyler Pastornicky or Jeff Baker will play over Uggla.
“I understand what my numbers are,” Uggla said. “I’m not blind to any of that, but at the same time, I’m part of the team that got us to where we’re at right now. Basically numbers don’t mean anything to me, especially in September. But some people don’t see it that way. Do I agree with it? No. But it’s not my call. I don’t make out the lineup. All I can do is pull for my teammates and do what I can when I get an opportunity.”
Uggla had been rested only twice during the first 97 games and let Gonzalez know his displeasure, but after sitting for consecutive games Monday for the first time all season, one can imagine how he feels, regardless of whether he understands that his .208 average is lowest among National League starters or that he's hit .152 in his last 73 games.
“He just said something like ‘We’ve got to make a change and I don’t know how much playing time you’re going to get for these next 29 games,’” Uggla said. “And that was about it.’”
Gonzalez was forthcoming with the fact that he didn't like benching a player he has managed for six seasons.
“It’s not a doghouse situation,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a situation where you feel like you need to do something for the team and for the name on the front of the uniform. And it’s not easy because of the relationship.”
Even though Gonzalez isn't sure how much playing time Uggla will get in September, he did note that it wasn't necessarily permanent and left wiggle room for Uggla to work his way back in the lineup.
And for that, Uggla was at least grateful for the honesty.
“We’re all men in here,” Uggla said. “One of the things about baseball, people kind of (talk) around subjects and try to tiptoe around certain areas of the game. The only thing we can ask for is if somebody is honest with you and straight up.”
The move mercifully comes after Uggla hit a career low .233 last season and was hitting .208 this year. Even with his 17 homers, his .373 slugging percentage is the lowest in the NL and he has struck out 150 times. Uggla already set a franchise record in 2011 with 156 strikeouts; he's currently on pace to strikeout 181 times this year.
Uggla seemed to demonstrate a basic lack of understanding of statistics when he cited his five-game hitting streak he carried through Saturday. The catch is that even though he did hit two homers over the stretch, he only had one hit in each game and struck out eight times over the last four games.
“It’s kind of funny, I had a go-ahead homer a couple of nights ago,” Uggla said. “We ended up not winning that game, but… I homered a couple of games before that, which turned out to be kind of a big one as well. A few hits here and there. Who knows. Whatever.”
Gonzalez also played down any moves that could be made over the offseason, whether Uggla could be traded or how much of his salary the Braves would have to eat. Uggla is slated to make $13 million a year through 2015.
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