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Helms hopes Ramirez's benching sends message

Hanley Ramirez wasn't in the Marlins lineup Tuesday, but he was spotted in the duguout, celebrating with his teammates in the sixth inning after Cameron Maybin belted a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Wes Helms That's a good sign Ramirez, at the very least, apologized to his teammates or at least made some sort of peace with them after unleashing some venom to reporters this morning about manager Fredi Gonzalez and his decision to bench him Monday for "a lack of effort."

Whether Ramirez apologized or not, he is going to get a visit from veteran clubhouse leader Wes Helms, who was more than supportive of Gonzalez's move after he witnessed Ramirez jog after a ball he accidentally kicked in the outfield in the second in Monday. 

Helms told reporters Tuesday he was angry with Ramirez, but glad to see his manager do something about it. Gonzalez hasn't been one to be very critical of his players publicly over the years. But after a closed door meeting with management, he seemed to be given the green light.

And it seems it scored Gonzalez points with the other 24 players in his clubhouse.

"I commend Fredi for what he did," Helms said. "One guy wasn't doing it and he wanted to show him and the team he's not going to stand for that. That's what makes you respect a manager more is when he does have rules, if he backs them up, you respect him more. Us as players and us as his teammates saw last night, he's not going to stand for that and he did something about it.

"It definitely sets the bar. Hanley is the star on the team. I tell him all the time he could be the best shortstop in the game. He's that kind of player. But it doesn't take talent to hustle. That's one thing you've been taught since you were born by your dad or whoever. It doesn't take talent to run hard or work hard. To do that to Hanley just shows these other 24 guys on this club that this is serious. This is the way we're going to play the game here and this is what the game is all about."

Helms said he planned to speak with Ramirez Tuesday in "a mature manner."

"I want to talk to him in a manner more of to just let him know you need to be the leader of this team and to be the leader of this team, you have to lead by example and if you don't lead by example, you won't be a leader," Helms said. "I will definitely talk to this guy because I want him to be a leader. He deserves it because of his talent and the way he plays the game. Guys will follow if he leads."

Helms recalled how when he was in Atlanta several years ago, Braves manager Bobby Cox sent a strong message to his team when he benched outfielder Andruw Jones for being lazy in the middle of an inning. Gonzalez said Tuesday he never thought about doing the same to Ramirez because he didn't want to embarrass him.

"I'll never forget that as long as I live," Helms said of Jones' benching. "I came up with Andrew. I'll tell you one thing, you never saw him do it again. Sometimes, you aren't going to have perfect players. But the way you handle your players can help them in the long run and that happened to Andruw. Hopefully, this will help Hanley.

"I think this can have two effects. You look at your star as 'Hey this can't be happening,' and this can hurt the chemistry of the team. But you also look at it, the way Fredi handled it, it can also pump a team up because it shows the other 24 guys it's not going to be something we commend here and we're going to take care of it. It gives the other guys the extra fire to play harder and to run balls out and to go hard. I think it can hurt and help the team. The way it was handled last night, I think it's going to help us."

ROSS SAYS HANLEY PLAYS GAME "HARD, MAJORITY OF THE TIME"... Monday's benching, of course, wasn't the first time Hanley Ramirez has had his desire questioned. Last season, second baseman Dan Uggla wondered aloud in the clubhouse if Ramirez was fighting through a pulled hamstring tough enough.

Right fielder Cody Ross, another outspoken player in the Marlins clubhouse, said Tuesday he thought Ramirez's lack of hustle was simply because he was hurt. 

""Hanley plays hard the majority of the time," Ross said. "He plays without question as hard as anybody. I just feel like sometimes when he's not being Hanley, getting three or four hits a game, he might [loaf]. I don't know if he's frustrated right now or was really hurt. I'm not questioning fact whether he's hurt or not, but seeing Fredi step up and get as upset as he was, Fredi and the coaching staff felt he shouldn't [play]."

Ross said where Ramirez made his mistake was staying in the game despite the injury.

"I just thought he must be really hurt," Ross said of watching Ramirez jog after a ball Monday. "I just felt like if you can't go, you need to let the manager know you're not capable of it. When you're hurt, you don't want to go out there and do more damage for your team. I've been in the situation I don't know many times where I'm thinking to myself 'Should I go because I don't want to go out there and hurt my team by going 50 percent?' Is it better for me to stay out of this game and not play today. I think you need to be honest with the manager when you're hurt if you can go or not. I guess he tried to tough it out and stay in there and it ended up costing us a few runs. It's pretty much all I can say."

Unlike Helms, Ross said he didn't need to hear an apology from Ramirez for his actions. But he did support Gonzalez's move. 

"You see it a few times every year -- not on our team, I'm saying around the league," Ross said. "Guys have been pulled out of games for not hustling. It happened in Tampa with Upton. It happened with Soriano. It sends messages to guys that this is a team effort, it's not just about one guy. It's about 25 guys. That's what we're about. We're about the Marlins. It's a touchy subject, but something that has to be addressed. If I was in that situation and I was dogging it, I would hope somebody would put me in my place.

"I have the upmost respect for Fredi. I know it's a tough situation for him to do. Hanley is one of our stars, he is our star player, the face of the franchise and there is a fine line, a boundary. You don't want to lose a guy for a couple weeks. You don't want to get him so upset he doesn't want to play. It's tough. He's in a tough situation. He has to handle it the best way he can. I think he's doing it the right way."

Ross said he hopes the situation resolves itself soon because he said the Marlins need Ramirez in the lineup.

"I think he'll be alright," Ross said. "I think it will take him a couple days. He's a sensitive guy. Everybody knows that. He takes things and wears it on his shoulders. We'll support him 100 percent. We need him. He's a huge part of this team and we need him."