Upton: Arb hearing no concern, "all for" long-term deal
UPDATE, 5:18: The Rays say interest in a long-term deal is mutual. ""B.J. is a very important part of this organization and we would like for him to remain so for the foreseeable future,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "While we don’t discuss specifics on contracts or potential contracts, we are, of course, open to exploring a long-term deal with B.J.”
DEVELOPING: Appearing at his charity golf tournament Monday, CF B.J. Upton said his pending arbitration hearing will not be a problem - "not at all" - going into the season and he is "definitely all for" discussing a long-term deal to stay with the Rays.
"If that's something that they want to talk about, I'm definitely open ears for it,'' Upton said.
Upton and the Rays are headed to a potentially contentious hearing next month over a small difference - the $300,000 between the team's $3-million offer and Upton's $3.3-million request.
But Upton, before teeing off Monday at Hunter's Green, said he knows the process is just part of the business. "It's unfortunate that it had to come to this, but I think both sides understand that and we both understand that's the business and what needs to happen needs to happen,'' Upton said. "Both sides will do need what we need to do, but at the end I think the main goal is to win a championship.''
The second annual tournament, with a field that included teammates James Shields and Andy Sonnanstine; former Rays Edwin Jackson, Toby Hall, Joey Gathright and Matt Diaz; new hitting coach Derek Shelton; brother Justin Upton; former major-leaguers Carl Everett and Ozzie Timmons; and several former Lightning players, benefits the St. Vincent DePaul Society, in which Upton said he took a personal interest after seeing so many homeless people around the area.
Host B.J. Upton mingles with former teammate Joey Gathright (left) and former big-leaguer Carl Everett (center) before the start of Monday's charity tournament.