MIAMI (AP) — Dan Uggla lofted a majestic fly to left-center field and began his home-run trot, thinking he had hit a rare home run at Marlins Park.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez thought the ball was gone, too. So did Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano, and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
But homers are tough to come by in Miami, and Uggla’s blow barely grazed the wall. He hustled belatedly to leg out a double.
“I was confused and disappointed and mad all at the same time,” Uggla said.
Marlins Park tends to have that effect on hitters. Through Monday, the Marlins ranked last in the majors with 53 homers, but they had hit a respectable 36 on the road — only 17 at home.
Ruggiano led them with 12 homers, but had none at home.
“I try not to think about it,” Ruggiano said Tuesday. “It’s frustrating because it’s very unrewarding for a guy who uses the whole field and tries to take a good approach and hit the ball where it’s pitched and do everything right and still makes an out.”
Last year, the first at the new ballpark, the Marlins hit 55 home runs at home and 82 on the road. Their pitchers gave up 58 at home and 75 on the road.
“This ballpark plays very big,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s good for our pitching, not so good for our offense.”
The dimensions are daunting — 386 feet to left-center, 418 to center and 392 to right-center. A bigger issue is that the ball simply doesn’t carry well, as Uggla was reminded in the second inning Monday night.
He had his head down, congratulating himself on hitting a homer, before he heard first-base coach Terry Pendleton shouting at him.
“I absolutely blasted it,” Uggla said. “I was so sure it was gone I didn’t look back up. Then TP is like, `You got to get going! Get going!’ I was like, `Get going for what?'”
Stanton was fooled by the ball, too.
“I think I know this park, and I was like, `There’s no way that’s not going out,'” he said.
There were no homers in the 14-inning game, which Atlanta won 7-1, even though several hits seemed to have long-ball potential. Stanton estimated that if the game had been played in Cincinnati, there would have been eight home runs, including two each by Uggla and Ruggiano. The Braves’ Jason Heyward cracked a deep drive to right but settled for his first triple of the year.
Opinions vary on how the positioning of the retractable roof and windows beyond left field affects the way the ball carries. Marlins officials are in no hurry to alter the dimensions, and while hitters grouse, Gonzalez said he prefers a park that’s too big to one that’s too small.
“We’ll see. I’m sure they’ll get a couple more years in it before they make a re-evaluation,” the Braves manager said. “After three or four years, when you get a feel for your park, you can always bring the fences in. You can’t do it the other way around; you can’t take out seats and make it bigger.”