After Marcell Ozuna’s latest incident caused him to get benched, the Braves slugger may be nearing the end of his time in Atlanta after all.
Atlanta Braves slugger Marcell Ozuna may have plucked his final straw following his behavior in Sunday’s game. In the fourth inning, Ozuna slammed a pitch from Arizona Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen to deep center field, and instead of running, he stood at the plate and waited thinking it was going to be a homer.
The 415-foot missile fell just short of that, and Ozuna had to settle with a single since he didn’t hustle hard enough after the hit.
Braves manager Brian Snitker replaced Ozuna with Sean Murphy in the sixth inning, leaving Ozuna to sit and watch the rest of the game from the bench.
In Ozuna’s defense, his fly ball would have been a homer in 23 of 30 MLB stadiums. But even then, Ozuna arguably committed a cardinal sin by not hustling after making contact, and the Braves had every right to bench him that game.
Braves bench Marcell Ozuna for not hustling after a hit
Things may have been different if Ozuna was playing at an All-Star level this season. The outfielder has been shockingly dominant in May, but the question remains: Can Ozuna keep the resurgence going until the end of the season?
His NL MVP-contending years feel very far removed, and many were clamoring for the Braves to just bite the bullet and cut Ozuna loose, even if that means taking huge losses on the financial side.
Ozuna is currently in the third year of a four-year, $65 million contract he signed before the 2021 season, yet with Atlanta set to get several players off the injured list, Ozuna may have no place on the Braves roster moving forward, definitely not as a reliable power-hitter, anyway.
Snitker spoke about Ozuna’s lack of hustling after Sunday’s game, telling the media that, “I guarantee he feels worse than I do for having to take him out.”
On the surface, Snitker sounds like he feels sorry for Ozuna’s situation but he doesn’t regret his own decision. Ozuna should have run after making contact with the ball, no excuses allowed.
One has to wonder if Snitker and the team are still keeping faith in Ozuna or just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ozuna is hitting .227 with 11 home runs and 23 RBIs in 44 games this season, numbers that are much improved thanks to his torrid form in May.
In the wake of Sunday’s incident and given Ozuna’s unimpressive start to the 2023 season, though, Atlanta has got to be thinking about hitting the eject button on their fallen-from-grace slugger.