Uggla dropped to 8th in batting order for first time

SAN DIEGO – Struggling Dan Uggla showed Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez enough Monday to stay in the lineup, but not to keep him out of the eighth spot for the first time in his career.

Gonzalez wanted to play outfielder Reed Johnson on Tuesday against Padres left-hander Andrew Werner, so he moved left fielder Martin Prado to shortstop. Paul Janish was out of the lineup for just the second time in 44 games since he replaced injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Uggla, batting a league-worst .207 before Tuesday, was dropped to Janish’s usual eighth spot after batting mostly sixth or seventh for the past eight weeks as his struggles continued.

“I talked to Danny,” Gonzalez said. “You hate to hit him eighth, but somebody’s got to hit eighth, and I felt like that way you kind of split the left-handers.”

He referred to left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann, who batted fifth and seventh Tuesday. Gonzalez wanted a right-handed batter between them and went with Johnson, batting .300 overall and .321 with an .854 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against lefties.

That left the eighth spot for Uggla, who has been equally bad against lefties and right-handers this season. Uggla hit .145 with five homers and 82 strikeouts in his past 69 games before Tuesday, including 3-for-31 with no RBIs in his past 10 games.

He did, however, single up the middle and hit a 400-foot flyball that was caught at the center-field wall Tuesday. And Gonzalez also saw a good sign in another Uggla at-bat Tuesday – a fifth-inning pop fly to second base.

“He hit a ball up the middle, and then the one to straightaway center, he nailed it,” Gonzalez said. “And you know what? I was encouraged – this is going to sound a little crazy – but I was encouraged when he got jammed, on that [pop fly]. For me, it means OK, he’s letting the ball travel a little, he’s letting the ball get deep [on him]. That’s a good sign. You can work from that. So yeah, that was the reason I chose [to sit Janish] instead of Danny….

“To the casual observer, OK, it’s a fly ball to [second] base. But I haven’t seen that from him lately, and they say good hitters get jammed. Good hitters are not afraid to get jammed. And then the next at-bat he goes straightaway center in this ballpark. So OK, there’s [encouraging] stuff there.”

To be clear: Gonzalez concedes he is always a glass-half-full kind of guy when it comes to his players. Nowhere has that been more blatant that in his steadfast support of Uggla during severe slumps in each of his first two seasons with the Braves, including the career-worst stretch Uggla has been in since the first week of June.

He did bench Uggla twice in the past week, replacing him with Prado on Sunday at San Francisco against Tim Lincecum and playing Tyler Pastornicky at second base against Washington’s Ross Detwiler on Aug. 22. Uggla was a combined 0-for-18 against those two pitchers, and Gonzalez said when he told him why he wasn’t playing him against Detwiler, Uggla took it well.

“He’s been, ‘Whatever you want,’” Gonzalez said. “Here’s a guy that’s been on the All-Star team three times, and he’s got an ego — all the good players have egos and feelings. And he has never said anything. Which is a good sign.

“That’s why we cheer him on so much, because of the kind of player he is. We want him to be successful. Hell, he’s going to be here for three more years. We want him to get through this stuff.”

Uggla is in the second year of a five-year, $62-million contract he signed soon after being traded to the Braves in November 2010.

Another lefty Wednesday

The Braves will face another Padres left-hander, Eric Stults, in Wednesday’s series finale. Gonzalez said Johnson would be in the lineup again, and mentioned possibly resting Chipper Jones or one of his left-handed hitters. Or he could have Prado play second base again.

For the second year in a row, the Braves have faced more left-handed pitchers than any other NL team. A lot more.

The only four NL players with as many as 175 at-bats against lefties this season were all Braves – Michael Bourn (197), Jason Heyward (187), Freeman (182) and Prado (181).

No division has as many lefty starters than the NL East, and the other teams in the division have had more lefty pitchers start games this season than the Braves, who had only one (Mike Minor) until the July 30 trade for Paul Maholm.

The Braves had 1,638 at-bats against lefties this season before Tuesday, while the Mets (1,506) were only other major league team with as many as 1,500. Last year the Braves led the NL with 1,637 at-bats against lefties.

This was particularly troublesome last season, when the Braves had the most at-bats in the league against lefties, they ranked dead last in the league in average (.228) and OPS (.642) against lefties. This season they were eighth in NL with a .249 average vs. lefties and ninth with a .705 OPS vs. lefties.

Much of that has to do with Prado, back in top form after his health-affected 2011 season. Against lefties, he led Braves regulars by a wide margin with a .331 average against lefties before Tuesday. Next were Jones (.310) and Bourn (.284), with no other lineup regular above .241 against lefties.

Mejia named IL’s top rookie

Triple-A Gwinnett Braves first baseman Ernesto Mejia was named International League’s rookie of the year, the third consecutive Gwinnett player to win the award. Pitcher Julio Teheran won it last season and Freeman in 2010.

Mejia, 26, hit .303 with 24 home runs, 91 RBIs and an .871 OPS before Tuesday.

41 comments Add your comment

Reid in EAV

August 28th, 2012
10:17 pm

“We decided to hit Danny 8th because we need to break up the good hitters with ones who suck.”

I'm a glass 1/2 empty kinda guy

August 28th, 2012
10:18 pm

Enter your comments here

I'm a glass 1/2 empty kinda guy

August 28th, 2012
10:19 pm

No, you are NOT a glass 1/2 full guy, you are just clueless………

DeepDiver

August 28th, 2012
10:20 pm

You hate to see Danny in that 8-hole. You’d love to see him on that bench.

Bruce

August 28th, 2012
10:28 pm

Caseyatthebat

August 28th, 2012
10:50 pm

In what world does this Gonzalez live?

chem

August 28th, 2012
11:06 pm

Uggla and Gonzalez are best friends for life. That’s his boy from Florida, so of course he’s going to sit down, stroke his ego, and make sure he’s ok batting 8th WITH THE WORST BA IN BASEBALL. Fredi should bench Uggla without having to explain a thing to him. If Uggla doesn’t understand why he’s not batting cleanup, then perhaps that’s half the problem…

TarHeel 1We have a playoff team but no manage

August 28th, 2012
11:12 pm

Fredi is a clueless manager

Stu

August 28th, 2012
11:28 pm

Why don’t the Braves have Mejia learning to play third or left field for next year.

Casey

August 28th, 2012
11:54 pm

Why isn’t Mejia playing 1st tonight?

Oh'man

August 29th, 2012
12:20 am

I don’t like the fact we are letting Medlen pitch into the 8th inning! He has eaten up a lot of innings since he got the nod to start. We need him to be fresh and healthy when playoff time comes because he is no doubt our number 1 starter, he is our ACE! Tim Hudson number 2 and either Ben Sheets (hopefully he is just tired and needs a couple of starts to get fresh because he is a legitimate ace as well) or Malholm as our number 3 starter!

bruce

August 29th, 2012
12:22 am

Bat him 9th tomorrow and he’ll hit two homers!

TWO GOOD DOGS

August 29th, 2012
12:40 am

SCREW UGGLA. JUST WATCHED HIS LAST 2 AT BATS. SWINGS WITH HIS EYES CLOSED AT ANYTHING. NOT A THREAT TO DO ANYTHING. GOT LUCKY ON A BALL UP AND OUTSIDE AND FORCED IT TO LEFT FIELD. HATE UGGLA.
FREEMANS PLAYING LIKE CRAP AS WELL. HALF ASS APPROACH. SIT HIS ASS DOWN FOR A COUPLE OF GAMES.
THE PLAYER SWAP IN THE 7TH INNING WAS JANNISH TO SHORT,PRADO TO LEFT AND JOHNSON TO THE BENCH. SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRADO TO SECOND, JANNISH TO SHORT UGGLA TO THE BENCH.
MEDLEN PITCHED GREAT. EVEN CHIPPERS BALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN CAUGHT. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE SCORED AT ALL WITH THIS PATHETIC OFFENSE. POOR APPROACH, POOR ATTITUDES AT THE PLATE. THIS IS THE PADRES FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. WATCH THE CARDINALS BLOW BY US IN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS.

Casey

August 29th, 2012
12:41 am

@TWO GOOD DOGS

Yours caps lock is on.

It only took the Braves three seasons

August 29th, 2012
12:56 am

Medlen has been one of the best starters since his second year. His era and opponents average since then prove that. That it took the Braves braintrust this long to figure it out is puzzling, to say the least. Hopefully they’ll figure out that Uggs is not slumping. He’s either gotten too big, and slow, with his popeye arms or he’s changed his mindset since signing the big contract. For the love of decent baseball, Danny, let the arms go for awhile!

Brandon

August 29th, 2012
12:59 am

yes TWO GOOD DOGS, this is the padres that just had a 7 game winning streak which included a game against the giants, and sweeping of the pirates and diamondbacks. They also had won 6 out of their last 7 before coming to Atlanta in our previous series where we took 3 out of 4 against them.

pirates are roughly 8 games over .500 since the all star break

And obviously, anybody that knows anything about sports knows that the actual match ups and how a team is playing at that time is more important than their overall record.

and the braves so called poor approach has allowed them to lead the majors in walks

Brandon

August 29th, 2012
1:13 am

padres not pirates

Lobosolo

August 29th, 2012
1:30 am

WE’VE JUST WATCHED YOU BLOW YOURSELF, TWO GOOD DOGS!!!

Buzz 2011

August 29th, 2012
5:05 am

Uggs should be batting in the10th hole,right?

IdahoBravesFan

August 29th, 2012
5:33 am

Buzz. I totally agree. 10th is a great spot for him. Exactly which spot on the bench is the 10 hole located?

RBrave

August 29th, 2012
8:27 am

Great job Medlin !! glad to see Freddie finally decieded to play a .300 hitter on a team that can’t hit aka Johnson. I’d play him until his batting average got to what, .207 there Mr. Uggla.

Terry Dunlap

August 29th, 2012
8:52 am

If Uggly Uggla, was a football player, he would be playing “Leftback”, when the team on the road……Enough said!!!

Terry Dunlap

August 29th, 2012
8:52 am

If Uggly Uggla, was a football player, he would be playing “Leftback”, when the team on the road……Enough said!!!

rico carty

August 29th, 2012
9:04 am

A manager apologizes to a player for batting him eighth? I guess that is why they the manager is a player’s manager. Good grief.

The Mick

August 29th, 2012
9:14 am

Can Mejia play 3rd base??????????????????? Bring him up.

The Mick

August 29th, 2012
9:14 am

Can Mejia play 3rd base??????????????????? Bring him up.

Sonny Jackson

August 29th, 2012
9:23 am

I’ve always been a Fredi supporter, he’s a neighbor and I like him personally, but this is getting crazy- who cares how “Danny” feels? This is a business not the first grade! Sit his behind down and put the best team possible on the field. We’re here to win, right?

FireFredi

August 29th, 2012
9:27 am

Most comments here reflect a higher understanding of the game than the Braves current skipper… Ugla is and has been looking ugly for too long. He should consider himself luck to get sat down rather than be sent down to AA.

Mr. Snarky

August 29th, 2012
9:58 am

I hate to go there, but perhaps Dan should be known as “Struggla”.

Arizona Brave

August 29th, 2012
10:53 am

FG has to let Uggla go,he got lucky last night and ran into one.FG has to put the best line up on the field if the Braves are to have any chance at winning the division. He has to sit Uggla and McCann and play Jannish at short,Prado at second, Johnson at left field and Ross catching.

Peter R.

August 29th, 2012
11:12 am

Oh the mighty Fuggly, how he has fallen. How far hath he fallen? Fallen so low as to be in Matt Diaz territory…

John A.

August 29th, 2012
11:41 am

What has happened to Simmons? He can’t stay on the DL forever!!!!! I suppose Janish has gotten the favor of Freddie & Frank so Simmons will be trade bait. I see the non-achiever (Pastor) is back in the favor of management, and his fielding is questionable at best. Another great move….I’m still waiting for the collasp that is about to come.

k483

August 29th, 2012
2:27 pm

I guess hanging out with those porn folk is catching up with him…

tim

August 29th, 2012
2:36 pm

Boy it’s a good thing Freddie has all YOU experts looking out for him. Look I am not supporting either Gonzalez or Uggla,but it is safe to say that none of you myself included is qualified to manage a major league ball club let alone give hitting advice. Look Uggla’s best days are behind him ? Damn right I do,but I do not kid myself to think I know more than the skipper , the hitting coach or even Uggla himself, I’m just a fan and I whine and bitch like everyone else. I just stop at making stupid inane comments on the internet.

drew

August 29th, 2012
2:49 pm

I am soooooo sick of Fredi every few weeks, for the past 3 months, saying he sees signs Uggla is snapping out of it. Someone buy that man a pair of frickin’ glasses so he can see REALITY>

Goliath

August 29th, 2012
3:48 pm

Did I imagine it or did I JUST hear on sports radio last week that Fredi was NOT going to just keep “runnin Uggla out there” anymore? Now we see he IS running him out there AGAIN. WTF is wrong with this *hole? Uggla needs to go to AA ball NOW, not tomorrow, NOW!

Bo

August 29th, 2012
6:26 pm

Wren and Rest of High Ups. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease get rid of this Bozo Manager and take Popeye arms with you

cornjolio

August 29th, 2012
6:58 pm

Cut Uggla loose !

BullDogMike

August 29th, 2012
7:21 pm

Braves don’t have the clutch hitters to hang on through the month of September. Pitchers other then Hudson and Medlen are only fair at best.

jbone

August 30th, 2012
8:29 am

dan uggla’s salary $13,000,000 divided by 91, the number of hits this year comes to $144,444 per hit……just saying

Jbird

August 31st, 2012
8:53 am

Uggla needs to get a big Popeye bat like Prado; swing level like Prado; swing slower like Prado, and go with the pitch like Prado——-then those big strong arms would allow him to make some magic!

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