MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Off the bench, Uggla valuable piece for Nats

Second baseman has positive attitude about helping in limited role

Off the bench, Uggla valuable piece for Nats

WASHINGTON -- Second baseman Dan Uggla hasn't started a game since May 5, but despite the lack of playing time, he is happy to be a member of the Nationals.

It's a different attitude compared to when he was with the Braves. Last year, Uggla lost the second-base job to Tommy La Stella and acknowledged that he was frustrated toward the end of his time in Atlanta.

"I reached a breaking point [with the Braves] around the All-Star break. It was a bad situation," Uggla said. "[In Washington], they don't owe me anything. I came here at the minimum. I came here fighting for a job, wanting to make the team, be the everyday guy. It hasn't worked out that way, but that is not their problem.

"I want to be here for these guys. And if there is an opportunity I could play, that's what I'm going to do. My job is to play when Matty [Williams] needs me to play."

Uggla has made a difference while coming off the bench. He is 7-for-21 (.368) with runners in scoring position and 9-for-28 with runners on base.

His biggest hit came on April 28, when his three-run homer gave Washington a 13-12 victory. From that point on, the Nationals won 17 out of their next 21 games. Now they are in first place in the National League East, a half-game ahead of the Mets.

Uggla laughs after being told his home run against Atlanta turned the season around.

"I wouldn't say that," Uggla said. "It was just a matter of time before this team got up and running. It's too talented. It's too good. It's such a great attitude. That home run helped us win a game. I don't see it much more than that."

Teammate Bryce Harper sees the Uggla home run in a different way.

"I was so happy for him when he hit that home run against the Braves. The fans were booing him the whole time and going crazy," Harper said. "We have been on a roll ever since. He has been incredible for us. He is such a great teammate and a fun guy to be around."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.