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Hanley's Lack of Hustle

Hanley Ramirez boots a ball into the outfield. / AP PhotoThe big story in baseball this week is centered on Florida Marlins Shortstop Hanley Ramirez.  The 2006 Rookie of the Year and 2009 Batting Champion was benched by manager Fredi Gonzalez Monday after failing to hustle after a ball he kicked into the outfield, while runners were rounding the bases and scoring.

Benching a player for not hustling has long been a tactic of managers to send a message to the rest of the club.  But when it's your best player, it can be a bit more divisive.  Add to that the fact that he may have been a bit hurt after fouling a ball off his leg in an at-bat the previous inning, and the media has plenty to latch onto.  What should ideally be a private matter has blown up into the public sphere. 

I have to agree with Gonzalez's decision to bench Ramirez, though, because star players should be expected to set an example for the team.  Ramirez made matters worse by refusing to apologize and even attacking his manager for not understanding what it's like to play in the bigs.  It didn't seem to bother the team, though, as they won 8-0 on Tuesday.

Ramirez does have a history of acting out, and to this point his teammates and manager have kept quiet about his immaturity.  But unless he at least makes a statement to his teammates, it will be hard to see him as a leader.  

Gonzalez says he expects him to make such a statement today and be in the lineup tonight.  We'll see if Ramirez and the Marlins can put this behind them.  We wouldn't want to have to hear Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wax poetic on the situation anymore.

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