Hanley, Uggla dispute just ‘family business’

By Alden Gonzalez
Updated: September 3, 2009

Hanley Ramirez (left) and Dan Uggla

Hanley Ramirez (left) and Dan Uggla

MIAMI — About seven hours had passed since a pregame back-and-forth between Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla on Wednesday night.

But moments after a walk-off home run by Wes Helms gave the Marlins an 8-7 win over the Braves they desperately needed, Uggla and some of his teammates filed the heated discussion under family business.

“I love [Ramirez] like a brother,” Uggla said. “We got past it and moved on. Stuff like that happens and emotions are going to fly sometimes.”

The incident started on Tuesday, when Ramirez exited the game — one delayed nearly three hours because of rain — after four innings with a hamstring strain. Ramirez felt his teammates thought he was faking the injury and that, considering he was riding an 0-for-14 slump, he wanted to sit on his league-leading .355 batting average.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Ramirez talked about how he needed to play despite being “10 percent” in order to gain the respect of his teammates, saying, “I got people upset when I got out of the game last night.”

Close to an hour later, while Ramirez was talking to another reporter, Uggla chimed in and got into a verbal dispute with Ramirez, one in which Uggla questioned his double-play partner’s desire to win by — among other things — saying, “If you really wanted to win, you would have never come out of the game.”

Shortly thereafter, the clubhouse was closed to the media. But though Uggla said he never confronted Ramirez about the incident after the fact, he said the issue was settled right then and there.

And when asked if he regretted his decision to call out Ramirez, the Marlins’ second baseman replied, “No, not at all.”

“I’m glad it happened,” Uggla added. “I’m glad it’s over with.

I’m glad we’ve moved on, and I think we’re stronger and closer and tighter because of it.”

Uggla and Ramirez were arguing about 15 feet apart from each other while sitting in front of their respective lockers, and outfielder Cody Ross was sitting in between the two — who never got up from their chairs.

But after the game, Ross, one of Uggla’s best friends on the team, said there’s no real dislike between the two up-the-middle partners.

“The emotions are running high around here,” Ross said. “We’re like a big family, and we fight like brothers. But we all love each other, and we all pull for each other, and we’re a team. That’s what families do. They pull for each other. And I think it’s good for us. We need a little something to pick us up.”

Although Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Ramirez could be eligible to pinch-hit, the star shortstop never checked into the game and was seen on camera sitting alone in a corner of the dugout.

Ramirez was not available to the media after the game.

During Spring Training, the 25-year-old shortstop reportedly had issues with the club’s new haircut policy. And during the Marlins’ series in Toronto in June, Ramirez said he felt unprotected after being hit by a pitch.

“Stuff happens during the course of six months when you’re living with each other,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not the first time in any clubhouse. You see it in football fields all the time, and the only bad thing is that it was out in the media.

“It happens in championship teams. It’s a big family, and a good family, and we might be better off for it.”

Helms was given a two-year extension this offseason to be the veteran presence in the clubhouse, and he definitely led with his bat in the bottom of the ninth, when he took a 3-2 fastball from Mike Gonzalez and blasted it over the left-field fence for the win.

But despite his heroics, Helms faced a lot of questions about the argument between two of the Marlins’ best players on Wednesday night.

“We’re a big family,” Helms said. “It’s just like us and kids.

We have to punish our kids, and we get in spats with them but then they love us. It’s one of those things about growing as a team. It’s part of team chemistry. It’s like my wife and I say all the time, ‘If you love something, you’re going to fight.’ That’s just the bottom line.”