Uggla keeping focus on field
Infielder knows he may be traded if Marlins fall out of race
NEW YORK -- Dealing with numbers and rumors is part of baseball.
Sometimes the numbers can be misleading, and other times, the rumors can become persistent. Two-time Marlins All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla currently finds himself addressing both.
In 45 games, he is hitting .216, which is below his normal mark. Off the field, Uggla's name has already surfaced in possible trade speculation. A recent report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says the Giants have interest in the power-hitting second baseman.
Aware of what's surrounding him, Uggla is remaining focused on the task at hand, which is to make improvements with the realization that the season still is comparatively young.
"You can look at it a bunch of different ways," Uggla said. "I concentrate on what's going on in tonight's game, and not what was in the past.
"What happened is what it is. I concentrate on moving forward. Everyone is going to look at the average. That's what everyone looks at. The thing is, if you don't look at that, it's not that bad."
Although his batting average is low, his power numbers have been pretty steady. In Wednesday's 6-2 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Uggla had three hits, including a home run, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Uggla paces the Marlins with nine home runs, and his 32 RBIs are second on the team to Jorge Cantu's 35.
"You've just got to concentrate on it being a long season, and you've got to grind it out in the tough times," Uggla said. "The hits aren't coming as much as you'd like them to come. But there still is some production there."
Uggla entered the season as a career .262 hitter. But power has differentiated him from a number of other second basemen. Twice in his first three seasons, he's topped 30 home runs in a season.
In 2008, he had a career most 32 home runs and 92 runs batted in, to go along with a .260 batting average.
He's also known as a streaky performer, and when he gets hot, he is capable of carrying the team.
With his blast off Brett Myers on Wednesday, Uggla has now homered in five of his last nine games. And five of his last nine hits have left the ballpark.
"His at-bats, he's been coming along," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Not only in [the Phillies'] series, but over the course of the last 10 games or so."
Off on Thursday, the Marlins open an important three-game set with the Mets on Friday at Citi Field.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Marlins, who are 22-26 after starting off 11-1.
Florida is five games behind the Mets in the National League East. And if the team falls out of the race in the next five or six weeks, the possibility of trades is very real.
Earning $5.35 million in his first year of arbitration, Uggla is aware he could be a candidate to be traded.
"It's very possible," Uggla said. "Everybody knows the way baseball is and the way this organization is. Again, there is nothing personal about it.
"They've worked this way for a while now. They're going to do what's best for the organization. Say we're not contending in a month, then there can be some big changes. But if we are, there still could be some changes, but not as much. You don't know until the situation occurs."
Being the subject of trade speculation is new for Uggla. In recent years, he would hear rumors about his former teammates -- players like Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Jacobs and Scott Olsen.
"It's never been me," Uggla said. "It's always been Cabrera and Dontrelle. I guess you can throw some of our names around last year, but last year, I didn't think I was going anywhere. You kind of had the feeling Mike Jacobs might be traded, and some other guys, like Scott Olsen. I didn't think [Josh] Willingham would be traded. But yeah, it's kind of real now."
The Marlins have pretty much held the same nucleus since 2006. Uggla and shortstop Hanley Ramirez are two of the centerpieces of the franchise, and they are the highest-paid players.
While Ramirez is in the first season of a six-year, $70 million contract, Uggla is signed only through 2009. In February, he won his arbitration case, and the more power he produces, the higher the price tag will be next year.
If the Marlins, however, remain in the race, the chances of major changes diminish.
"Everybody in this clubhouse wants to win," Uggla said. "But the reality is, we're still five out."
Indications are the Marlins are in no rush to make dramatic chances, because they feel they haven't hit their stride yet. There is plenty of time to turn things around.
The 2006 team, for example, was 20 games under .500 in late May. That squad went on to surpass the .500 mark in September before it finished 78-84.
"Those [standings] don't matter right now because there are so many more games to be played," Uggla said. "There are so many things that can happen. At the same time, for us, we have to do something quick or things can change."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.