In his first 10 games as a Brave, fans have seen second baseman Dan Uggla tumble into shallow center field making an over-the-shoulder catch.
He’s barehanded a throw from a slipping Alex Gonzalez to complete a double play, and that was the second-most exciting double play they’ve completed this week, after the one in Milwaukee.
In Saturday’s game, Uggla snuffed out a grounder he had no business gloving to take a hit away from the Phillies’ Wilson Valdez.
Not bad for a player who was greeted by questions about his defense upon his arrival in November. A lot of that had to do with a reputation Uggla got from the 2008 All-Star when he committed three errors in the national spotlight.
“I’ve been answering questions like that ever since the All-Star game,” said Uggla, who said the defensive doubts haven’t provided any extra motivation. “That’s just the way it is.”
Uggla had the second-most errors among all second basemen over the past two seasons with 34. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez who had managed him in Florida for 3 ½ years said a lot of those errors came from making the extra effort to even get to balls. Effort is what Gonzalez was happiest about on that play to Valdez.
“He never gave up on that ball,” Gonzalez said. “It just happened he dove for it, and the ball came up at the same time and bam, got it. I think Valdez was shocked. It looked like he was trying to make a turn, like base hit, then bang he throws him out….”
“That play going the other way in the hole with Jimmy Rollins running, he’ll give you that same effort. He may not throw Jimmy Rollins out or Jose Reyes, but the effort the fans are going to appreciate from him.”
Ironically, it’s been Uggla’s offense that’s been slow to take. He was hitting .176 (6-for-34) entering the game Sunday.
“I think he’s playing with a mentality right now if he’s not going to get a hit, nobody else is going to get one either,” Gonzalez said.