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View Full Version : Nobody stepping up to defend Ramirez



DannyB
09-05-2009, 08:17 AM
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/columnists/sfl-hyde-hanley-090309sbsep04,0,2260651.column

MIAMI GARDENS

How does Dan Uggla know if Hanley Ramirez "ain't hurt," as he put it? Has Uggla earned some hidden degree? Should we call him Dr. Dan Uggla?

Can we send him to the Dolphins to observe Matt Roth, too?

One more question: Why hasn't any Marlin rallied to Ramirez's defense in the 24 hours since Uggla entered the forbidden territory of accusing a teammate of faking an injury and quitting on the team?

That would seem natural, especially when the teammate is the face of the franchise who didn't start for a third consecutive game Thursday with a hamstring injury.

All this raises Wednesday's shouting match between Uggla and Ramirez beyond the this-happens-on-every-team line manager Fredi Gonzalez understandably tried to slough it off as.

You want a harmless story like that? Here's one involving Ramirez this season. The players were stretching at Land Shark Stadium on the field before a game. Wes Helms, the designated enforcer, called out anyone who straggled in late.

"You're late," he'd say.

Ramirez was late. Helms told him so. Ramirez said something back. Helms went up to him. Ramirez shouted back. It escalated from there until the two were separated by teammates.

Yep, that kind of story happens on every team in every season. Uggla's shouting match with Ramirez went far beyond that. He called out the team's superstar on everything from faking an injury to worrying about his batting stats more than winning to a jealous-sounding rant about his having the team's only long-term contract ("You got your $70 million ")

That's not the normal talk of teammates. It cuts to something deeper. It deals with how Ramirez is perceived by those who play closest with him. Ramirez and Uggla, after all, have been double-play partners for nearly four years.

On Thursday, Uggla talked for a few minutes about their clubhouse fireworks, saying it had blown over and was forgotten. Uggla then was asked if everything was patched up.

"Ever since we got everything out in the open yesterday, we're fine," he said. "Or I'm fine."

He shrugged. "Whatever."

Ten feet away, Ramirez wore headphones and stared into the computer screen of his laptop, watching a DVD of the movie Scarface. He was at the scene where Tony Montana didn't gun down a rival riding in a car with his family.

No, no, no, Ramirez shook his head several times when asked for a minute. He wasn't talking.

Last year, the Marlins Get your Marlins Tickets now! paid Luis Gonzalez $3 million in part to patrol a team closer Kevin Gregg had deemed "unprofessional." One role was to babysit Ramirez, even Gonzalez said.

This year, again, Ramirez is off the charts as a player. But, again, it seems the manner he carries himself doesn't go over as strong as his talent should. This doesn't come from teammates. It comes from a consummate pro.

"Success comes so easily to him as a player he makes it look effortless," said Andre Dawson, the Marlins' special adviser to the president. "That's when the game will break you. You've got to decide: Do you want to be great or be elite?

"Hanley's still young, but he's not that young anymore. He needs to work on some qualities that are not self-instilled in him. You've got to want it, first. You've got to want to lead by example. You've got to want to work to earn the respect of your teammates, not only on the field but in how you handle yourself in your work."

And he doesn't want to handle himself as a pro?

"He's working on it," Dawson said.

Ramirez is having a season anyone not named Albert Pujols would die for: .356 batting average, 19 home runs, 86 RBI. This won't affect that. Nothing will. He's that good.

But Ramirez, who had a pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth, didn't start the Marlins' win Thursday again. He's hurt. Or he ain't.

Dave Hyde can be reached at dhyde@SunSentinel.com