Slumping 2nd baseman Dan Uggla, hitting only .208, has been benched by the Atlanta Braves in a move manager Fredi Gonzalez acknowledged was “not easy.”
Uggla, who started in this year’s All-Star Game, said Gonzalez told him of the change Sunday.
“He did not really explain anything to me,” Uggla recounted. “He just kind of said, ‘We’ve got to make a change. I don’t know how much playing time you’re going to get the next 29 days.”
Martin Prado started at 2nd against Colorado for the 2nd straight day. Prado went 1-for-3 and drove in a run in the Braves’ 6-1 win.
The Braves acquired infielder Jeff Baker from Detroit Tigers and also have infielder Tyler Pastornicky on the bench. Each can play 2nd base, but Gonzalez claimed Prado is the new starter.
“It’s a situation where we would like to we want to do something for the team and the name on the front of the uniform,” Gonzalez claimed. “It’s hard. It’s not simple. Two months ago, you do not under any circumstances think about it.”
Uggla hit only .233 in 2011, his 1st season in Atlanta. He finished robust with a career-best 36 homers with 82 RBIs. He is the first 2nd baseman in the major leagues with five 30-homer seasons.
Uggla started slow last season but recovered with a 33-game hitting streak and was the National League player of the month in August. He hasn’t had a similar turnaround this season, hitting .160 in June, .115 in July and .207 in Aug.
“I understand what my numbers are. I’m not blind to that,” Uggla declared.
Uggla said “Numbers don’t mean anything to me. … I’m part of the team that got us where we are now.”
Gonzalez said he couldn’t ignore Uggla’s extended struggles at the plate.
“You just look at the big sample size,” Gonzalez recounted.
Gonzalez stated that he hasn’t considered the long-term results of the move. Uggla confirmed a 5-year, $62 million agreement in 2011 that continues thru the 2015 season.
“Next year is next year,” Gonzalez said. “I may not even be around for next year. I don’t even look that far ahead.
“There’s going to be some mending of fences and perhaps of relationships, but that is what we have got to do.”
The versatile Prado has played left field almost all of the season. He also has made 18 begins at 3rd base and could take over at that position in 2013.
Gonzalez was Uggla’s manager with the Florida Marlins before Atlanta. He said his history with Uggla made the decision particularly tricky. NFL odds
“Obviously, it’s uncomfortable,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard, especially with the relationship I have with him, 6 years with him. You want your players to be upset when they’re not in there.”
The manager asserted he expects Uggla to play an big role in the last month of the regular season.
“Knowing him, going down in September, he’s going to have an big at-bat when he pinch-hits or he is going to have a big game when we put him in the game and it will get us in the postseason,” Gonzalez announced. “That’s the way that I feel about it.”