Braves second baseman Dan Uggla didn’t like it much, but he didn’t argue either, when manager Fredi Gonzalez gave him his first day out of the lineup of the 2012 season Friday night against the Nationals.
Uggla has been in a three-week slide at the plate, hitting only .108 (7-for-65) in his past 20 games, and wasn’t too surprised when Gonzalez sent him a text message Friday morning letting him know he wouldn’t be in the lineup. Of course, Uggla didn’t respond to it either.
“Give him a day, and just let him just relax, enjoy baseball again a little bit,” said Gonzalez, who said Uggla would be available off the bench. “It’s something that we need to do as managers. He doesn’t want it. He’ll fight you tooth and nail for it, but I outrank him. I don’t outrank too many people, but I outrank him.”
When asked later if getting a mental breather could be a good thing, Uggla said, “No it’s terrible, for the fact that (because of) the performance I’ve been putting out there he doesn’t want me in there. You can call it a mental day. You can call it a day off. You can call it whatever you want, but any time he feels like you’ve got to have one of these days, it’s not a good thing – in my eyes, anyways.”
Gonzalez always jokes about the difficulty in telling Uggla he thinks he need a day out to rest, or clear his head, and the two are fine with each other as always. But Gonzalez felt he needed to do something to break up Uggla’s rhythm. He was 0-for-11 entering Friday’s game and 4-for-45 with 20 strikeouts in his past 13 games, including three strikeouts on Thursday night against Arizona – all looking.
Uggla concedes that a stretch when he wasn’t getting pitches to hit (16 walks in 13 games) with so many Braves big hitters out injured might have gotten into his head a little bit.
“I don’t mind walking but just like everybody, you want to go up there and hit,” Uggla said. “So when you do get yourself in a hitter’s count you may chase something trying to be aggressive, to put a ball in play, try to hit it hard, and drive someone in. You may expand the zone a little bit.
“…When you’re struggling you want to take advantage of every mistake that’s made, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. You almost want to be more patient and let the pitchers come to you. Let them make two mistakes in an at-bat rather than trying to hit the first one.”
Gonzalez pointed out that a breather worked this past series for Arizona’s Chris Young, who was out of the lineup for three games, but came back and hit home runs in back-to-back appearances.
The move also allowed Gonzalez to give Jack Wilson his first start in a game since May 30 when Andrelton Simmons got called up. Wilson was in at second base.