Uggla out of starting lineup for first time this year

Uggla out of starting lineup for first time this year

ATLANTA -- Dan Uggla was not pleased when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sent a text to alert him that he was going to give him a chance to rest during Friday night's series opener. But at the same time, Uggla realized his recent struggles had reached a point where Gonzalez felt it was best to leave him out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.

"It's a terrible thing for the simple fact that I don't get to play today and try to help my team win," Uggla said. "Also for the fact that my performance out there has made it to where this is what [Gonzalez] wants to do. He doesn't want me out there. You can call it a mental day. You can call it a day off. You can call it whatever you want. But anytime he feels like you need to have one of these days, it's not a good thing."

Gonzalez has praised Uggla's ability to remain focused and continue providing contributions like the defensive gem he created while starting a clutch double play in Wednesday's win over the D-backs. But with his veteran second baseman hitting .108 (7-for-65) with a .310 on-base percentage and .169 slugging percentage in his previous 20 games, he opted to give him a chance to clear his head.

"This baseball season is a grind," Gonzalez said. "Just giving them a break to get the fun back into it is something we need to do as a manager. I know he doesn't want it. He'll fight you tooth and nail for it. But I outrank him."

Uggla had started each of the previous 75 games played by the Braves this year. He has seen his batting average drop from .276 to .235 since he hit two home runs in a four-hit performance against the Marlins on June 5.

During Thursday night's loss against the D-backs, Uggla struck out three times -- marking the eighth time this season and fifth time in June that he has reached this total.

Though he has struggled this month, Uggla certainly would rather be where he is now than where he was at this same point last year. Through the Braves' first 75 games last year, he was hitting .176 with a .559 OPS. Two weeks later, he began what became an Atlanta-record 33-game hitting streak.

"I've had my struggles in the past, and even though last year was to the extreme, I still got through it and had another good year," Uggla said. "This is something we battle as baseball players. Every year, you're going to go through something like this, and you just want to minimize it and get it away as soon as you can."