MLB: Marlins' Ramirez says he wasn't giving up on ball
MIAMI — Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez defended his play Tuesday and took shots at his manager and teammates, a day after he was pulled from a game for not hustling.
Ramirez, a two-time All-Star and last year's NL batting champion, wasn't in manager Fredi Gonzalez's starting lineup against Arizona. On Monday night, he accidentally kicked a ball and then lightly jogged after it, allowing two runs to score.
"It's his team. He can do whatever," Ramirez said, mixing in an expletive. "There's nothing I can do about it."
"That's OK. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues," he said.
Responded Gonzalez: "He's right, but I know how to play the game."
"I played six years in the minor leagues and I know what it takes to play this game and I know the effort it takes to play this game," he said.
It seemed unlikely Ramirez would say he was sorry.
"We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls," he said. "They don't apologize."
The trouble for Ramirez started in the first inning Monday night after he fouled a ball off his left shin and was tended to by a trainer. He grounded into a double play and did not run full speed down the line.
Ramirez's costly misplay came the next inning after Tony Abreu's looper fell near him in short left field. Ramirez booted the ball about 100 feet toward the left-field corner and slowly chased it.
"I wasn't trying to give up," Ramirez said. "That was the hardest I could go after the ball."
Ramirez was replaced by Brian Barden an inning after the play. Gonzalez, in his fourth season at Florida's manager, confirmed Ramirez was yanked for not hustling in the 5-1 loss.
Ramirez is hitting .293 with seven homers and 20 RBIs this year. He is the Marlins' highest-paid player after signing a $70 million, six-year contract in 2008, and has become the face of a franchise that moves into a new ballpark in 2012.
For all his talent, however, there have been occasions in which some speculated Ramirez didn't always hustle. Nothing ever reached this level, though.
Barden started in place of Ramirez on Tuesday afternoon.
"It's our team. I'm just the guy that makes the lineup," Gonzalez said. "I can't control everybody going 4 for 4, but you can control the effort."
Ramirez said he lost some respect for Gonzalez for the episode.
"A little bit. We got 24 more guys out there," Ramirez said. "Hopefully they can do the same things I can do. They're wearing the Marlins uniform."
Veteran infielder Wes Helms hopes Ramirez apologizes to his teammates.
"I can't overlook it," Helms said. "I know people say that's just the way he is, but you know what? That's not the way it is. That's not the way the game's supposed to be played.
"And that's what we want from Hanley. We want him to be that guy that goes out there every day ... and busts his butt and does anything he can for his this team. That right there will earn the respect of not only his teammates, but everybody in the league."
Gonzalez hopes the situation doesn't draw focus from his team.
"If it's handled the right way, I think it could be good," he said. "If it's not, it could be distraction, it could grow into some ugly stuff. But let's wait and see what happens. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill just yet."