Atlanta Braves skipper Brian Snitker benched Marcell Ozuna for not hustling out of the batter’s box on a 415-foot single, but was that even enough of a punishment for the controversial slugger?
Despite taking two of three on the road vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, the big narrative stemming from that critical NL series was Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker benching Marcell Ozuna in Sunday’s finale.
After an atrocious start to 2023, coming off back-to-back down years riddled with off-the-field controversy, Ozuna was finally playing up to his 2020 standard in the Atlanta lineup. He has been seeing the ball very well of late, but not hustling out of the box on a 415-foot single in a crucial game for the Braves led to Snitker benching him in favor of Sean Murphy from the sixth inning on.
Here is the play that led to Snitker pulling one of the hottest hitters in baseball from the game.
Atlanta went on to win the game on Sunday 8-5, thanks to Eddie Rosario’s grand slam. Snitker did go on to say that nobody probably feels worse about the benching than Ozuna himself. I mean, he had to do it. Snitker took a page out of the Bobby Cox playbook, who infamously benched Andruw Jones in a similar situation back in the day. Frankly, I feel the message was received by Ozuna here.
With an off-day to come back to Atlanta to face the arch rival New York Mets on Tuesday evening, this is all that Snitker needed to do to rectify the major issue of Ozuna not hustling out of the box.
Atlanta Braves: Brian Snitker benching Marcell Ozuna Sunday served its purpose
Having the extra day for this to sink in for Ozuna will surely be humbling. Snitker benching him for not running hard enough to get extra bases was absolutely merited, but that is all he needs to do. Atlanta is playing great baseball this year, and taking two of three on the road vs. the NL West co-leader in Arizona is a huge deal at this stage of the campaign. Atlanta needs to focus on the Mets.
Look. The ball carries very well in Phoenix, so it is only natural for a power hitter like Ozuna to marvel at a pitch he made great contact on at Chase Field. I mean, you’d be lying to yourself that you didn’t do this at some point in your youth playing baseball or softball. Regardless, let’s just be happy the Braves won. Arizona is a good team, and the Braves might face them in October again.
Ultimately, what more does Snitker need to do? Bench him for a month? Cut the guy? Please… You don’t have to like what Ozuna is about, but he’s been playing great baseball for the last five weeks or so, finally living up to that contract he signed in Feb. 2021. Releasing him at this point would be so stupid, so get off your high horse and play ball. Hopefully, Ozuna helps Atlanta crush the Mets.
Atlanta came together in Phoenix last year, so let’s hope this big series victory is a positive omen.