Marlins' fight leads to team meeting
MIAMI -- The Florida Marlins' two star sluggers exchanged heated words in a verbal confrontation in the clubhouse Wednesday, forcing a closed-door meeting as the team faded from the playoff picture.
A frustrated and injured Hanley Ramirez said Wednesday that he "got some people upset" for leaving the game early the night before with an injury, then teammate Dan Uggla openly argued with the NL batting leader in the clubhouse.
Uggla accused Ramirez of a lack of desire and effort to win. He also said Ramirez wasn't caring because he's already secured a $70 million, six-year contract.
Ramirez left the Marlins' 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves with a tight left hamstring. He was taken out of the lineup Wednesday about an hour before the game, and the team held a closed-door meeting.
Earlier, Ramirez said that he would keep playing despite being injured, repeatedly saying he was only "10 percent" healthy. But with Florida losing two straight games and falling out of the playoff picture, Ramirez said he "had to keep playing."
The Marlins began Wednesday five games behind Colorado for the NL wild card and two behind the Braves for second in the division.
"You don't get the same respect from teammates when you're not playing," he said. "I got people upset when I got out of the game last night. I try to do the best I can. Whatever."
Ramirez repeated some of the same comments later about teammates, and Uggla overheard at his locker about 10 feet away and said: "I was one of them."
The two exchanged words. And at one point, Uggla said: "Yeah, you got your $70 million" and went on to use an expletive while asking him why he had to come out of the game.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez then politely asked reporters to leave the clubhouse so he could conduct a team meeting.
Gonzalez had originally said Ramirez would be in the lineup Wednesday, but when it came out, the slugger was replaced at shortstop by Emilio Bonifacio. Just after the team meeting, Gonzalez said outside the clubhouse that the matter would be handled internally.
"It's stuff that happens in the course of the season between teammates," Gonzalez said.
"That's between us girls," he joked.
Ramirez, in the midst of an 0-for-14 slump, was replaced in the top of the fifth Tuesday night. The hamstring has bothered him for most of the season, and he also was sidelined for a few games in July with a hip flexor.
Ramirez has a league-leading .355 batting average with 19 home runs and 85 RBIs. He is perhaps the biggest reason Florida has a winning record with a lineup full of deficiencies and a rotation that has been a disappointment.
The 25-year-old slugger also has by far the richest contract on baseball's thriftiest team.
While Ramirez was relaying what Uggla had told him after Tuesday night's game -- which was delayed nearly three hours at the start by rain -- other teammates publicly supported Ramirez.
"I know he went through some stuff," catcher John Baker said. "He's been hit by some pitches. He's been in the lineup every single day, and he's been battling for us through successes and struggles. I don't question any of his toughness, and I think maybe what you heard is more frustration about how we've been playing lately than anything."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press