When he found out that Dan Uggla had sliced open his hand during the Braves’ postgame celebration Tuesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t bother asking Uggla if he could play the next day. He knew what the answer would be from the second baseman who’s built like a fireplug and takes pride in being as sturdy as one.
“I didn’t even ask Bubba [head trainer Jeff Porter] if he couldn’t play,” Gonzalez said. “I said I’m going to put him in the lineup. He said, ‘yeah, do it.’”
The manager recalled the July 24 incident at Miami when Uggla was hit by a fastball that smashed into the left earflap of his batting helmet.
“Remember that? I mean, pow!” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t even get knocked down. He went to first base. I went out and he said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, you got hit in the [bleeping] head. He said, ‘Don’t ever come out here like that again.’ He didn’t even go down. Some other guys would have been rolling around.
“He came in the next day and had cauliflower ear, and he said, ‘I want to play.’ It was this big. I said, ‘Danny, please, you just got hit in the head.’ We had to trick him about the concussion test. We said you have to pass the concussion test. He passed it, but we said he didn’t. We said you’ve got one more day [to recover]. He got hit in the head. I don’t think he even took a step back. Just went to first base.”
Uggla went 0-for-4 on Wednesday, but had two hits and three RBIs in Thursday’s 6-2 win against his former Marlins team, continuing a recent resurgence following his three-month struggle at the plate. He played with three metal surgical staples holding together a deep cut above the first knuckle on his right index finger.
Uggla said he cut his hand when he reached into a tall cooler during the clubhouse celebration Tuesday. Apparently someone had dropped a champagne glass inside the cooler, although Uggla said Friday he wasn’t certain that’s what caused the cut.
“I don’t want to make a big deal out of this at all,” he said, downplaying the nasty gash on his hand and the zipper-like staples in the skin. The Braves doctor initially used stitches to seal the wound, but they ripped when Uggla took a few of his usual vicious swings. The staples have held.
He allowed that there was pain swinging the bat.
“It just hurts when I hit,” he said. “But initially grabbing the bat, it’s like, holy … how’s this going to work? Then you just take a couple of swings and it loosens up. Only probably is you’ve got to do it every time.”
It didn’t help when he got jammed and broke three different bats in Thursday’s game. Hitters will tell you that’s when the hands vibrate and hurt the most. The cut only magnified that effect, but the fact he got two hits and three RBIs from a couple of those swings eased the discomfort.
Uggla was 18-for-62 (.290) with eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and an .876 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 18 games before Friday, after batting .151 with 17 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .574 OPS in 77 games from June 6 through Aug. 6 and getting benched for three games.