Ramirez returns to Marlins’ lineup

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Fredi Gonzalez handled his clear-the-air chat with Hanley Ramirez like a father with a son that’s been grounded.

Then the Florida Marlins put out the lineup card that had the reigning NL batting champion hitting third, and tossed an alternate card he had prepared just in case.

“I think we’re all parents here,” Gonzalez said Wednesday. “Sometimes our children will say something that hurts, but it’s no big deal, we still love them.

“After this is all said and done, 10-15 years down the road we’ll sit down and say: ‘What a privilege to get a chance to manage this type of ballplayer.'”

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Ramirez was benched Tuesday after taking shots at his manager and teammates, a day after getting yanked from a game for not hustling. Gonzalez considered the matter old news after chatting for five or 10 minutes with Ramirez in the manager’s office, with Ramirez standing just inside an open door, several hours before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gonzalez seemed surprised when more than a dozen members of the media were waiting for his daily briefing, which on this day was all about Ramirez.

Asked whether the benching had made a point, he told reporters who had been critical of Ramirez that “you guys made the point.”

“People make mistakes, it happens, it really does. We’re human beings, you know,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes it happens because you’re mad at yourself, sometimes it happens because you lose concentration.”

Gonzalez said Ramirez planned to apologize to teammates. A team spokesman said Ramirez did not plan to talk to the media.

The manager wasn’t sure how Ramirez planned to address teammates, nor did he care, as long as it happened.

“That’s the No. 1 thing he’s got to take care of, and from that point forward I’m good,” Gonzalez said. “I think coming from the heart is always the best thing.”

The manager had no concerns how he was viewed after putting his foot down with a star player.

“This wasn’t about me or him, this was about doing the right thing, it’s about playing the game the right way,” Gonzalez said. “I just see a guy that loves the game and respects the game of baseball and tries to leave it the same way or better when we’re done.”

Ramirez accidentally kicked a ball about 100 feet and then jogged leisurely after it, allowing two runs to score on Monday night, and wasn’t in the lineup on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Ramirez fouled a ball off his left shin and was tended to by a trainer, then grounded into a double play and failed to run full speed down the line. He was taken out of the game.

“It’s his team. He can do whatever,” Ramirez said the next day, mixing in an expletive. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Ramirez was hitting .293 with seven homers and 20 RBIs and is the Marlins’ highest-paid player, in the third year of a six-year, $70 million contract.

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