Hanley defends self, takes aim at skipper
Ramirez says he lost some respect for Gonzalez for benching
MIAMI -- Hanley Ramirez, upset over being benched during Monday night's game, vented his frustrations prior to Tuesday's game against the D-backs -- a game for which he was not in the lineup.
Speaking to a gathering of reporters, the two-time All-Star shortstop said he was made an example of, and that he lost a measure of respect for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
In the first inning on Monday night, Ramirez fouled a ball hard off his lower left leg, on the shin just above his ankle. He remained in the game, but was clearly slowed. On Tuesday morning, he was sporting a bandage on his bruise.
The issue of Ramirez's effort level arose in the second inning in Florida's 5-1 loss to Arizona.
Tony Abreu lofted a bloop hit into short left field. Already hobbled, Ramirez accidentally booted the ball into the left-field corner. Two runners scored as Ramirez trotted after the ball. Abreu ended up on third, and an error was charged on the Florida shortstop.
"I wasn't trying to give up," Ramirez said. "That was the hardest I could go after the ball."
Asked if he was at full speed on the play, Ramirez said on Tuesday: "I don't know. It looked like it. That's the example [Gonzalez] set with me. If you don't hustle, hopefully, he does it with everybody.
"It's OK. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues. That's fine," Ramirez said. "That's the example that he set. It started with me. Let's see how far it goes."
Ramirez added that he wasn't mentally or physically ready to play on Tuesday afternoon. Brian Barden was in the lineup at shortstop.
"I think he needs to talk to his teammates a little bit," Gonzalez said. "Whatever feelings he has with me or doesn't have with me, it's fine and dandy. We don't have to get along, but I think he has to get along with the other 24 guys on this team. When that happens, we'll run him back in there. When he sets his ego aside, this could be good."
Gonzalez disciplined Ramirez by sending him to the clubhouse after the second inning. He said on Tuesday that Ramirez was not suspended.
The manager said he didn't know when Ramirez would return to the lineup.
"I think he needs to take care of the situation," Gonzalez said. "When he handles that, the right way, we'll be fine."
During pregame warmups, Ramirez was on the field, and for a while he was shagging balls in the outfield. He spent a few minutes in right field talking with his good friend, closer Leo Nunez.
"We expect an effort from 25 guys on this team. When that doesn't happen, we've got to do something," Gonzalez said on Monday night. Ramirez was asked if he lost respect for his manager.
"A little bit. That's fine," the 26-year-old shortstop said. "We've got 24 more guys. Hopefully they can do the same thing I do. They wear the Marlins uniform."
Ramirez said he was in a lot of pain after the foul ball, but he tried to keep playing.
"I was trying to stay in the game. I don't want to get out of the game," said Ramirez, who is batting .293 with seven homers and 20 RBIs. "I just said I was going to go home. I just wanted to go home. It's brutal. It's fine. It's OK."
Ramirez didn't leave immediately on Monday. He received treatment on his leg but left without speaking to reporters.
"It's his team. He can do what he [expletive] wants," Ramirez said of Gonzalez.
Ramirez told reporters he wasn't planning on apologizing to his teammates or his manager. Whether that changes over the next day or two remains to be seen.
"For what?" Ramirez said. "We've got a lot of people jogging it, after ground balls. They don't pull guys."
The Marlins open a two-game series with the Cardinals in St. Louis on Wednesday. If the shortstop addresses the team, he then could be in the lineup.
"I think he needs to talk to his teammates," Gonzalez said. "If this is handled the right way, I think it can be good. If it's not, then I think it can be a 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."
Before Ramirez arrived on Tuesday morning, veteran Wes Helms said the All-Star shortstop is looked upon as a leader.
"A lot of guys, coaches, staff have told Hanley. With his talent, he definitely needs to be the leader of this team," Helms said. "Mentally. Vocally. Everything. For me, to be a leader of the team, you have to lead by example. If you just lead vocally, and don't back it, I'm not saying you have to hit .300, it's the way you handle yourself. That's the way a true leader is. He definitely has the play to be a leader. But you want him to lead by example. It's what you're looking for."
Ramirez said that he respects everybody.
"I don't know if I get the same respect back," he said.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.