Lesson in leading by example
At what point does a player feel an injury is impacting his effort on the field?
In recent days the Marlins are dealing with an internal cloud storm created when Hanley Ramirez was removed from the game on Monday for lacking effort.
An inning after taking a foul ball off his left leg, just above the ankle, Ramirez trotted after a ball in the field that led to manager Fredi Gonzalez pulling the All-Star from the game.
Ramirez, who is among the faster players in the game, on Tuesday said he gave it all he had at the moment.
Veteran Wes Helms says if an injury is hurting the team on the field, then the player shouldn’t be out there. In Ramirez’s case, many on the team, and those who watched the replays, feel the effort was lacking.
“I’m a guy who pretty much plays until it’s broken,” Helms said. “But if you have an incident where it is going to affect the team, and you can’t give the right effort, you shouldn’t be out there,” Helms said. “If that was the case, then that’s different. But to just kind of not hustle is a different thing. There are two different things there.”
Ramirez has since offered harsh criticism of Gonzalez, pointing out the fact that his manager was never in the big leagues.
Not every manager enjoyed big league success. Jack McKeon, who guided the Marlins to the 2003 World Series, didn’t play in the Major Leagues either.
“He’s right,” Gonzalez said. “But I know how to play the game. I played six years in the Minor Leagues. I know what it takes to play this game. I know the effort to play this game. I know it’s hard to play this game.”
By his nature, Gonzalez stands up and defends his players. Rarely does he criticize them publicly. And pulling Ramirez out of the game was one of his toughest decisions since taking over the team in 2007.
There have been occasions where managers have pulled players off the field during an inning. Gonzalez clearly didn’t want to do that to Ramirez on Monday night.
“You guys have covered me know I’ve tried to do things the right way,” Gonzalez said. “Believe me, we’ve handled things behind closed doors. Usually, I like to do that. Most of the time. We’ve handled stuff behind closed doors that you guys don’t even know about.
“It’s hard to take a guy out, that’s embarrassing enough. To take a guy out in the middle of an inning? There has got to be some kind of history there.”
Before Ramirez returns to the lineup, Gonzalez wants his star shortstop to address his teammates.
Based on his immense talents, Ramirez has the ability to lead by his play. The Marlins want him to also lead by example.
“The caliber of player he is, he definitely needs to be the leader of this team. Physically. Mentally. Vocally. Everything,” Helms said. “For me, to be a leader of a team, you have to lead by example. If you just lead vocally, and don’t back it when you play the game, it won’t work.
“I’m not just saying you have to hit .300 or don’t make errors. It’s the way you play the game. The way you handle yourself. That right there is what a true leader is. He definitely has the play to back it, being a leader. You want him to lead by example. That’s what we’re looking for and hope he becomes.”
— Joe Frisaro
It’s our team. I’m just the guy who makes the lineup. It’s our team.