MIAMI – Twelve hours later, Dan Uggla joked about the size and hardness of his head, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez cracked that maybe getting beaned would help the second baseman snap out of his long slump.
But it wasn’t funny when Uggla was hit in the left side of his batting helmet by Miami pitcher Chad Gaudin in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s 4-3 win against his former team. It was frightening.
“Yeah, man, it looked a lot worse than I thought it was going to look,” Uggla said after seeing replays of the incident. “Rung my bell a little bit. But I was fine.”
Uggla was out of the lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but that was more a precautionary response. The way he’s been struggling at the plate, it was also a good day for Gonzalez to give him and his .213-and-falling batting average a rest. He’s hit .115 with a .476 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 40 games.
He was the first batter faced by Gaudin, who hit Uggla in the left ear flap with a fastball. Uggla never went down and had a brief chat with the Braves trainer and Gonzalez before heading to first base. Gaudin looked over to see if he was OK and Uggla held up his hand as if to say, no problem.
“That’s incredible,” Gonzalez said. “I ran out there last night thinking I was going to pick up blood and teeth. He never even buckled.”
Uggla smiled and said, “I’ve got a grande cabaza [head]. It’s hard, come to find out, too.”
He stayed in the game and passed a concussion test afterward. He said his left ear was a little sore Wednesday, but otherwise had no lingering effects.
“I talked to [Gaudin] after the game,” he said. “JJ [Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson] sent me a text and said Chad wanted to say he was sorry or whatever and make sure I was OK and everything. I just told him, ‘Yeah man, I’m fine. But if I end up getting cauliflower [ear] out of this thing, we’re not friends anymore.’”
Uggla is hitless in eight of his past nine games, and in his past 40 games he’s just 15-for-130 with two doubles, two homers, 53 strikeouts, a .299 on-base percentage and an anemic .177 slugging percentage.
Before the Marlins stole seven bases in eight attempts Wednesday, Brian McCann ranked sixth among NL catchers in highest percentage of runners caught stealing at 25.4 (15 of 59)….
The Braves went 4-3 on the trip and have a 30-20 road record, tied with Washington for best in the majors. They remained 4-1/2 games behind the first-place Nationals in the NL East standings.