Uggla set on remaining in Braves' daily lineup

BY foxsports • June 5, 2012

Fredi Gonzalez has made it clear.

He’s not going to be the one to tell Dan Uggla he’s getting a day off. At least not to his face.

Maybe
Gonzalez could text him, send a personal message on Facebook or even
talk to him via the electronic wizardry of Skype. Do people still send
telegrams?

Perhaps someone else can tell him. Any volunteers?

“Or maybe I’ll have one of you do it,” he joked to a handful of reporters one day.

Anything
other than being in the same room as Uggla, whose competitiveness and
pure dislike for sitting on the bench has conveyed the message that he
expects to be in the lineup.

Every inning. Every game.

“I
don’t need a day off,” Uggla said. “If I’m putting together quality ABs
and playing quality ‘D’ and running the bases like I know how to run
them, there’s no point. We have days off designated for us, and I
consider those my days off.”

Uggla has not played all 162 games
in any of his six full seasons in the majors, but he’s also never played
in fewer than 146. His name was in the lineup a career-high 161 games
last year--playing every day even through his remarkably deep first-half
slump--and he’s averaged 156 for his career.

Atlanta has completed one-third of its season, and Uggla is the only Brave who has played in every inning of every game.

Don’t
get him wrong. He’s not trying to be the next Ironman or Iron Horse or
even iron headed about the issue. Uggla isn’t trying to break any team
or league records. Simply, he thinks that if he’s healthy enough to help
the Braves win, he wants to be in the lineup.

“They pay me a lot
of money for this game, and I don’t like sitting out,” Uggla said. “My
body is fine. I take care of my body. Even if don’t feel 100 percent,
I’ll compete to fill as close to 100 percent as I can for that game.”

That’s perfectly fine with Gonzalez.

Uggla
was the last man standing for several games as the Braves endured
injuries to the bulk of their top run producers. Freddie Freeman,
Chipper Jones and Brian McCann have all missed games due to a variety of
injuries, and Uggla was a steadying presence while all three were out
at the same time.

“He’s one of those--and we have a couple of
those guys--they’re old breed type guys, and for a long time, this
organization had them,” Gonzalez said. “Andruw Jones. Chipper Jones.
Rafael Furcal. They never came out of the lineup. Danny is one of those
guys. And Freeman is one of those guys. Last year, (Uggla) had (an
injury) and you try to give him a day off, and he’s like, ‘No, I want to
play,’ instead of the other way around, where you try to beg guys into
the lineup.”

Chipper Jones played in at least 153 games every
year from 1996-2003 and Furcal played in 143 or more in his final four
seasons as a Brave. Andruw Jones, former All-Star centerfielder for the
Braves, averaged 157 games in his 11 full seasons with the club--he
played in all 162 in 1999 and missed only one in each 2000 and ’01.

Andruw
Jones is just one of five Braves to play every game since the team
moved to Atlanta in 1966, joining Felix Millan (1969), Dale Murphy (who
did it from 1982-85) and Jeff Francoeur (2006 and ’07).

This
season, Michael Bourn is the only other Brave to play in all 54 games,
but he was given the day off on May 16 and appeared later in that game
as a pinch hitter.

Gonzalez is determined to rest his top
players, even if they’re on a hot streak. He showed that with Bourn, who
sat out against tough Miami lefty Mark Buehrle even though Bourn was on
a 12-for-27 tear and had hit in 17 of 18 games.

Uggla, though,
wants to be in there, no matter what. Like last year, when he struggled
through a calf strain up until the point where he felt like he could
make it worse by playing on it.

So he took a whole day off on July 21. The only one of the entire season.

The next day, Uggla hit a pinch-hit home run, and on July 23, Uggla was back in the lineup.

“My
intent, if I’m healthy and capable of going out there and competing,
then that’s what I’m going to do,” Uggla said. “If capable of doing that
for the 162-game season, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not
trying to break Cal Ripken’s record. That record will never be broken.
I’m not trying to do anything like that. I just take a lot of pride in
being out there every day.”


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