The San Francisco Giants' own website reported that the team had released infielder Dan Uggla on July 30, but the announcement turned out to be premature. After keeping Uggla (and anyone else interested) in limbo for a few days, the Giants finally released him Monday after he declined a demotion to Class AAA.
Uggla, 34, made three All-Star rosters from 2006-2012 with the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, but his performance has degraded at the plate and the field in recent years. It's the second time this season Uggla has been released. A few days after suspending him for showing up an hour before a game at Wrigley Field, the Braves cut him on July 18, eating $19 million of his contract, which runs through 2015.
The Giants picked him up July 25, and his stay was painfully short: In four games, he had 11 at-bats, got zero hits, drew one walk, struck out six times and made three errors.
Since '12, Uggla has batted .194 with a .671 OPS and 385 strikeouts in 1,324 plate appearances.
It was thought that Uggla's vision was a problem, and he had Lasik surgery in August 2013. But a different issue became known in spring training this season, as reported by Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
When I spoke to Uggla at length in spring training – you can find the column linked here – he admitted he was a psychological mess last season:
“I was in a bad place last year. A real bad place. Somehow I hit 22 homers. Don’t ask me how.
“It was awful. And the second half of 2012 was awful. I got into so many bad habits. It’s not just that my swing was messed up. My legs were messed up. My head. I was a mess. Something would work in the (batting) cage but not the game. I was like, ‘Why isn’t this working?’”
He was confident of a turnaround this season. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Although he's not ancient, it's possible that Uggla's skill set just hasn't aged well. He was a rookie at 26 (not particularly young) and he's now in his mid-30s, when a lot of players start to "lose it." Always vulnerable to the strikeout, Uggla just might have run out of adjustments. A slower bat, wiser pitchers and a loss of confidence might be all there is to it.
We'll see if Uggla's refusal to go to the minors with the Giants comes from a desire for a fresh start with another organization, or if it's part of an acknowledgment that he just doesn't need, or even want, to play ball anymore.
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