Braves welcome Dan Uggla
No. 6 is out.
That uniform number belonged to longtime manager Bobby Cox, who retired after the season, and it isn't likely to be donned by anyone else.
No problem. Uggla gladly settled for 26 as his new number, while the Braves can only hope the power-hitting second baseman puts up the same numbers he had in Florida.
Uggla at Home at Turner Field
After watching what Dan Uggla did to them at Turner Field, Braves fans will be quite happy to be able to root for Dan Uggla and not against him. He ranks third all-time both in batting average (.354) and slugging percentage (.652) at his new home stadium.
Uggla was acquired by the Braves this week and made his first appearance with his new team Friday at Turner Field.
"This is one of the best scenarios for me," said Uggla, who was dealt to Atlanta for infielder Omar Infante and reliever Mike Dunn after failing to reach agreement on a long-term contract with the Marlins.
To make room for Uggla's bat, the Braves plan to move All-Star second baseman Martin Prado to left field, the position he's played in winter ball the past few years.
New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, taking over a team that won the National League wild card, wasted no time coming up with four or five different lineups the moment the deal was announced at the general managers' meeting.
Uggla will hit either cleanup or fifth, flip-flopping with catcher Brian McCann and giving the Braves the sort of right-handed power they so desperately need in the middle of the order.
"You guys know the numbers," Gonzalez said to reporters.
In the past five years, Uggla has averaged 31 homers, 93 RBIs and 100 runs scored. He has never been on the disabled list, and already ranks 13th on the career list for home runs by a second baseman.
Uggla was poolside in Mexico when he learned of the deal. He was checking the time on his cell phone when he noticed some 40 texts and messages.
The trade reunites him with Gonzalez, the manager of the Marlins until he was fired midway through last season. Also, Atlanta is a three-hour drive from Uggla's home in Columbia, Tenn., allowing his family to catch plenty of games at Turner Field.
Uggla said he's looking forward to playing with guys he has faced so many times from the other dugout in the NL East rivalry, such as McCann, Prado and switch-hitting third baseman Chipper Jones.
"I'm going to pick those guys' brains," Uggla said. "They're the best in the game. Chipper, I don't know that there's many people in the game that know more about hitting -- from both sides of the plate -- than that guy. You can never talk to too many people about hitting and find out their approach."
The Marlins decided to deal Uggla in the final year before he's eligible for free agency after he turned down a four-year, $48 million contract. His agent was seeking $71 million for five years, the kind of money that might make Uggla a one year-and-done player with the Braves.
Braves general manager Frank Wren doesn't seem concerned.
"We literally have a year to put this together," he said. "Not that he really thinks it's going to take that long. I don't see any reason not to do it. He was the top guy on our list."
Uggla understands that it might take a while to work out a long-term contract with the Braves.
"I'm sure everyone wants to have as much information as they can about their investment before they make it," he said. "You want to be in a place where you're going to be happy. I think with the talks that we're going to have, getting to know each other the next few weeks, we'll be able to find out a lot."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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