Hanley Ramirez has committed one of the cardinal sins of baseball: not hustling (and in a particularly galling, nonchalant manner). And now he's digging in, refusing to apologize to his teammates and lobbing verbal grenades at his manager Fredi Gonzalez.
But first, let's set the scene. Monday night, the Marlins faced men on first and second with no men out in the second inning. The Diamondback's Tony Abreu was at the plate and blooped a pop up to short left field. Ramirez -- who had fouled a ball off his ankle in the first inning -- converged with left-fielder Chris Coughlan, but missed the catch. With the ball at his feet, Ramirez accidentally kicked it into the left-field corner...and then proceeded to "chase" after the ball at a very comfortable gait, a half-jog really. Two runs came around for Arizona, with Abreu ending up on third base on the error. Check out the video here. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez promptly pulled Ramirez, and Florida's skipper had this to say after the game:
"We expect an effort from 25 guys on this team, when that doesn't happen, we've got to do something," Gonzalez said. "You guys call him a marquee guy," Gonzalez said of the player often referred to as the "Face of the Franchise." "I've got 25 guys all wearing the same uniform. All with the Marlins insignia on the front. If anybody did it, not just the one guy."
But rather than expressing remorse over his apparent lack of effort on Monday night, Ramirez is instead firing back, telling the Palm Beach Post that he has "lost respect" for manager Fredi Gonzalez, and that he has no plans to apologize to his teammates. Among the highlights from the Palm Beach Post:
Asked about his injured ankle:
"That’s OK. [Fredi Gonzalez] doesn’t understand that. He never played in the big leagues."
Asked about his benching:
"It’s [Fredi Gonzalez's] team. He does whatever he (expletive) wants. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s brutal."
Asked if he lost respect for Fredi:
"A little bit. We got 24 more guys out there. Hopefully they can do the same things I do. They’re wearing the Marlins uniform.’’
Asked if he would apologize to his teammates:
"We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They don’t apologize.’’
Asked about what happened on the play:
"I wasn’t trying to give up. That was the hardest I could go after the ball."
Apart from the not-so-subtle digs at his teammates -- and the much more obvious ones at his manager -- Ramirez pretended he didn't know who Gonzalez was, and told reporters that he wasn't mentally or physically ready to begin playing again. Gonzalez apparently agrees. The Marlins manager told the press that Ramirez was out of the line-up for Tuesday, and that he thought Ramirez had some off-the-field issues he had to attend to first:
I think he’s got to take care of some problems. Let me retract that: It’s not a problem but I think he needs to take care of the situation and when he handles that in the right way we’ll be fine.
That echoed the sentiments of Marlin Wes Helms, who came out and said he thought Ramirez needed to apologize his teammates for his lack of hustle to clear the air.
Ramirez is the highest-paid player in the Marlins organization after inking a six-year, $70 million extension in 2008. The former batting champion is currently hitting .293/.375/.483 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs on the season thus far.
For more reaction to the Ramirez brouhaha, check out our Marlins blog, Fish Stripes.