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Maddon: Upton likely to miss at least first week



UPDATE, 11:40: Manager Joe Maddon went along with that assessment and even a bit further, saying it it is all but official that Upton won't be ready for opening day. "I doubt that,'' Maddon said. "I would say no.''

With the Rays already being cautious and Upton now likely to miss at least a few days because of the bone bruise to his left hand, Maddon said: "It kinds of leads us to believe that he's not going to make that first road trip. I don't know what's going to happen after that."

And that makes it likely that the opening day centerfielder in Boston is likely to be ... Ben Zobrist.

The Rays hadn't been particularly optimistic that Upton would be ready for the April 6 opener anyway, and even though the bone bruise won't lead to "too much of a slowdown," the Rays are okay being without him.

"It's not a huge issue for me,'' Maddon said. "I want him to be healthy and well and ready and I want him to have the kind the year that he's capable of because he is healthy. I want to do nothing to jeopardize the latter part of the season by being a little bit too quick now. We're better off, I believe, to be prudent right now and do the right things. If he has to miss a couple days, so be it and we'll reap the benefits of that.''

Upton suggested before spring training he might not return until the April 13 home opener, though Maddon said that's "not necessarily" the target date.

"Believe me, I want no rushing with this; I want him to be right,'' Maddon said. "You saw what it was like last year when he was injured and played and then what it was like when we backed off and how good he had done in the playoffs. So you want to see that on a more consistent basis.''

Zobrist is starting in centerfield today, and Maddon acknowledged the Rays could look at carrying another infielder, such as Adam Kennedy, and using Zobrist as even the primary centerfielder until Upton returns.

- - - -

The Rays were already being cautious with CF B.J. Upton's recovery from left shoulder surgery, and now that he's sidelined at least a couple days with a bone bruise on his left hand, Upton acknowledged Sunday that he's not likely to be ready for the opening week of the regular season.

"It's looking more that way,'' Upton said this morning.

Upton said his left hand is sore and swollen today, and even though X-rays were negative he likely will be checked by Rays orthopedic Dr. Koco Eaton today. Upton was hit by a pitch in a minor-league game on Saturday and said he's not likely to play again for several days.

Upton said at the time he was "a little nervous" because he was in "so much pain" his pinky finger "wouldn't stop spazzing out." But he said it "calmed down rather quickly" and he was relieved to be able to make a fist, which is usually a sign no bones are broken. 

Upton said he'd still hope to play in a major-league exhibition sometime this week, but with the Rays planning to treat his debut as if "I just started spring training." Upton now figures he will open the season on the DL with hopes of being ready for the April 13 home opener.

"Definitely,'' Upton said. "Obviously I was pushing it, but I think they're definitely going to want to take it a lot slower now.''


[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:45am]


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