Upton apologizes: "It can't happen"
Update 7:45 What a difference a day makes. One day after getting booed by the Tropicana Field crowd, B.J. Upton received a standing ovation in Tuesday's second inning after making a spectacular defensive play; he charged a single by Juan Rivera and threw out Torii Hunter at the plate.
When the inning was over, Upton was greeted by teammates - and received another ovation from fans behind the dugout.
CF B.J. Upton apologized for what he said was a "mental lapse" in Monday's game.
"There's no excuse for it,'' Upton said. "It can't happen. Especially in the middle of a pennant race. Every run matters, every out matters. So I want to apologize for it. It's just something that can't happen.''
It was the third time in the last two weeks Upton has been in the center of controversy for a perceived lack of hustle, and he was booed by the Tropicana Field crowd, but Upton said the reputation is undeserved.
" I know that's not me,'' he said. "I feel like I go out and play hard every day. I want to win as much as anybody in this room. Once again, things like that can't happen. It just so happens they're magnified a little bit more now than they have been in the past. It's something I've got to deal with and not let it happen again.''
Upton was tagged out from behind by Angels first baseman Mark Teixiera when coasting into second on what should have been an easy double on Monday. He was benched Aug. 6 for a lack of hustle in the previous night's game, then pulled off the field Friday in Texas for not running hard to first base and benched again Saturday.
He is in the lineup tonight, as manager Joe Maddon said he was would be. Maddon said he considered this incident more of a mental mistake than a lack of hustle, but also made it clear he wanted other players on the team to step in. Veteran Cliff Floyd did, and said he would make sure there are no further incidents.
Upton said, as he had after the previous incidents, he hoped to put this behind him and didn't think he needed to apologize to his teammates.
"The last thing I want to become is a distraction to this team,'' he said. "We've got something way too good going on right now to have to deal with this. I think we just want to win ballgames and right now I think I'm becoming a distraction. So I just can't let it happen, and for my sake and for the team's sake, so we can move on and get to where we need to be.''
The lineup, as the Rays look to surpass the Angels as the team with the best record in the majors, and improve to 9-0-1 in series play since the All-Star break: