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Uggla gladly changes numbers after trade to Braves
No. 6 is out.
That uniform number belonged to longtime manager Bobby Cox, who retired after the season, and it isn’t likely to be donned by anyone else.
“This is one of the best scenarios for me,” said Uggla, who was dealt to Atlanta for infielder Omar Infante and reliever Mike Dunn after failing to reach agreement on a long-term contract with the Marlins.
To make room for Uggla’s big bat, the Braves plan to move All Star second baseman Martin Prado to left field, the position he’s played in winter ball the last few years.
New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, taking over a team that won the wild card, wasted no time coming up with four or five different lineups the moment the deal was announced at the general managers’ meeting. Uggla will hit either cleanup or fifth, flip-flopping with catcher Brian McCann and giving the Braves the sort of right-handed power they so desperately need in the middle of the order.
“You guys know the numbers,” Gonzalez said to reporters.
Over the last five years, Uggla has averaged 31 homers, 93 RBIs and 100 runs scored. He has never been on the disabled list, and already ranks 13th on the career list for home runs by a second baseman.
Uggla was poolside in Mexico when he learned of the deal. He was checking the time on his cell phone when he noticed some 40 texts and messages.
The trade reunites him with Gonzalez, the manager of the Marlins until he was fired midway through last season. Also, Atlanta is a three-hour drive from Uggla’s home in Columbia, Tenn., allowing his family to catch plenty of games at Turner Field.
Uggla said he’s looking forward to playing with guys he has faced so many times from the other dugout in the NL East rivalry, such as McCann, Prado and switch-hitting third baseman Chipper Jones.
“I’m going to pick those guys’ brains,” Uggla said. “They’re the best in the game. Chipper, I don’t know that there’s many people in the game that know more about hitting _ from both sides of the plate _ than that guy. You can never talk to too many people about hitting and find out their approach.”
The Marlins decided to deal Uggla in the final year before he’s eligible for free agency after he turned down a four-year, $48 million contract. His agent was seeking $71 million over five years, the kind of money that might make Uggla a one year-and-done player with the Braves.
By David Keene
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