9/11/2013 7:10 P.M. ET
Uggla deals with another night on the bench
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Dan Uggla was not shocked when he returned to Marlins Park on Wednesday afternoon and learned that he was out of Atlanta's starting lineup for a third consecutive day. The veteran second baseman gained a sense this might happen after he met with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on Monday afternoon.
"It's his ballclub and I respect the decision that he made," Uggla said. "Do I agree with it? Once again, I've reiterated this lots of times: No, actually not. I don't think we're a better ballclub with me on the bench. But he's the manager and I've got to respect his decision."
Since Atlanta experienced a fourth consecutive loss on Sunday, Gonzalez has attempted to spark his inconsistent offense by not including Uggla or B.J. Upton in his starting lineup during the first three games of this week's four-game set against the Marlins. Both veterans have hit below .200 throughout most of this season.
While this might be new territory for Upton, Uggla experienced something similar last year when he was benched three consecutive games in early September and then found himself as an everyday player the remainder of the season.
"I wouldn't say I was more mad last year," Uggla said. "But I probably reacted more mad last year. I'm still affected the same way by it. I'm still just as [upset] by it this year as I was last year. But I've also grown up a little more from the experience of last year and held my emotions probably a little better this year."
Gonzalez has not provided any specifics when asked about when Uggla or Upton could return to the starting lineup. He said his approach is simply, "I'm taking it like whatever it's going to take to win today's game."
Uggla has hit just .133 (4-for-30) with a .366 on-base percentage in the 41 plate appearances he has garnered while attempting to get used to the improved vision he gained after undergoing LASIK surgery last month. His struggles have led Gonzalez to use Elliot Johnson as his starting second baseman the past three days.
With the club's comfortable lead in the National League East race, Uggla believes he should be given more time to shake off some of the rust that developed when he missed two weeks because of the surgery.
"We've got a 12-game lead," Uggla said. "I would have loved to use this time to try to get locked in for the playoffs and keep going in the direction I felt I was going. Obviously, he felt different."
Uggla admits he was somewhat embarrassed when he was used as a late-inning defensive replacement during the first two games of this week's series against the Marlins. But he has attempted to remained focused with the hope that he will regain his everyday role before the postseason arrives.
"This is a huge deal for me," Uggla said. "I've always dreamt about playing in the playoffs. I've never dreamed about sitting on the bench in the playoffs."
Wood gets to rest; Maholm gets MRI in Atlanta
MIAMI -- Sticking with their plan to give some of their starting pitchers extra rest before the postseason, the Braves decided Alex Wood would not make his scheduled start on Thursday. Minutes after informing Wood of this decision on Wednesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez received a visit from head trainer Jeff Porter, who revealed Paul Maholm was being sent to Atlanta to have his left elbow examined.
Freddy Garcia will start in Wood's place during Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Marlins, and suburban Atlanta native David Hale will make his Major League debut when he starts in place of Maholm against the Padres on Friday night at Turner Field.
Maholm felt some elbow discomfort during his Sept. 2 start against the Mets, and again this past Sunday, when he limited the Phillies to two runs in a six-inning effort that included 108 pitches. The veteran left-hander underwent a contrast MRI exam in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon. The club has not received the results of the exam.
"I would think some time tonight, we'll get a better read about what is going on," Gonzalez said.
Before this latest turn of events, there was reason to believe Wood would be chosen over Maholm to serve as Atlanta's fourth starter during a postseason series.
With Maholm's availability for the remainder of this season uncertain, the decision to give Wood extra rest could prove to be even more beneficial. Wood has started to show some signs of fatigue as he nears the end of his first full professional season.
Since posting an 0.90 ERA in five August starts, the 22-year-old rookie southpaw has allowed 11 earned runs and totaled just seven innings in the two starts he has made this month.
Gonzalez said he briefly thought about pushing Wood back just one day to pitch in Maholm's place on Friday. But the manager and pitching coach Roger McDowell determined it was more important to give the rookie hurler at least a few extra days' rest.
"[Wood] hasn't pitched in September ever or this long," Gonzalez said.
With their comfortable lead in the National League East, the Braves have already taken advantage of the chance to give Mike Minor and Julio Teheran extended rest between starts. Gonzalez said Kris Medlen will likely remain on schedule the rest of the season because he gained some extra rest when he was not used in any of the first four games played after the All-Star break.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.