Ramirez apologizes to teammates

One locker stall at a time, Hanley Ramirez worked his way around the Florida clubhouse to offer his apologies.

A few hours later, the Marlins star was back in a more familiar, comfortable place: batting third and playing shortstop. The team was ready to put the unsightly outburst that led to a benching behind it.

"He told us he was sorry and he was wrong ... and he wouldn't let it happen again," teammate Wes Helms said Wednesday. "Doing it that way is a lot easier than doing it front of a whole crowd.

"Whatever way he does it, we just wanted him to do it, and he did it. So now it's done with," he said.

Two days after pulling Ramirez for not hustling, manager Fredi Gonzalez handled his clear-the-air chat with the two-time All-Star like a father with a son who's been grounded. Then Gonzalez put out the lineup card that included the reigning NL batting champion, and tossed away 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.'"

During interviews with two South Florida radio stations Wednesday morning, Gonzalez said Ramirez had not apologized yet for his play or his comments, but also said he "would be really surprised" if Ramirez was not in Wednesday night's lineup against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

"It's going to get resolved one way or the other today," Gonzalez said on WQAM radio. " ... We'll take care of it and he'll be in the three-hole and playing shortstop."

Ramirez, a two-time All-Star, accidentally booted a ball and then lightly jogged after it, allowing two runs to score Monday night in a 5-1 loss to Arizona.

Gonzalez benched Ramirez, who let loose with his criticisms the next day, saying he felt no need to apologize, he'd lost respect for his manager, and that "It's [Gonzalez's] team. He can do whatever ... He doesn't understand that. He never played in the
big leagues."

But Ramirez changed his mind Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm sorry that all this got so ugly. My intent was not to cause a distraction," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com in a phone interview from St. Louis. "I'm sorry that things got this heated. The team, the fans don't deserve it.

"We are all professionals here and we're pulling for the same side. I'll try to close this chapter and focus on playing baseball," Ramirez added.

On Wednesday morning, on Miami-790 The Ticket, Gonzalez said he had spoken briefly to Ramirez before Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks -- for which Ramirez was not in the lineup, and the Marlins won 8-0 -- but not on the plane afterward as they headed to St. Louis.

Ramirez, who had fouled a ball off his left shin in the first inning Monday, said he had not given up going after the ball following the misplay. "That was the hardest I could go after the ball," he said.

But Ramirez followed that with an unsubtle jab at his teammates. "We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls," he said Tuesday. "They don't apologize."

A number of Marlins lined up to support Gonzalez. "I think Skip needed to do what he needed to do, which was take Hanley out of the game at that time," two-time All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla said. "Does that mean
we love Hanley any less? No, we have all made mistakes. We've all
done things like, 'Oh, maybe I shouldn't have done that.' But you
move on, you move forward you get past it."

Ramirez is hitting .293 with seven homers and 20 RBIs this year. He is the Marlins' highest-paid player after signing a $70 million,
six-year contract in 2008, and has become the face of a franchise that moves into a new ballpark in 2012.

Ramirez struck a conciliatory tone Wednesday, explaining that his comment about Gonzalez's lack of major league experience was not meant to denigrate, but to explain that he didn't appreciate being admonished while there were cameras everywhere.

Information from ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas and The Associated Press was used in this report.