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Upton on his charity event, being open to a long-term deal and the Rays in 2011

20

January

Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton, who recently agreed to a $4.825 million deal to avoid an arbitration hearing, has spent this past week talking about his upcoming celebrity bowling charity event, Monday at Splittsville Lanes in Tampa.

The speed-bowling event, which is expected to include Rays like David Price and Reid Brignac, along with Bucs like Jeff Faine and Kyle Moore, will benefit the homeless in Tampa Bay/St. Pete area through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. For a $100 donation, people can participate, or $25 to watch. For more information, check http://www.theuptonbrothers.com/

Upton recently appeared on Bright House Sports Network to discuss the event, and also talked about his new deal, being open to signing long-term with the Rays, having All-Star potential, and how the Rays can still do well in 2011 despite all the free agent departures.

(On his charity event helping the homeless)

"I live in downtown Tampa and the amount of homeless in that area is pretty high. Just going to the park every day, I see at least five-to-10 people that are walking around, pushing a cart or carrying a backpack. It's just something that needed to be addressed. And what a better society to do it wiht than St. Vincent de Paul.

(On how happy he is to agree to a $4.825 million deal and avoid the arbitration hearing process he went through last season)

"I think it's very big not only for me, but for the Rays also. I don't think that's a process that either party wants to go through. To actually have the opportunity to get it done and be able to focus on one thing around this time."

(On possibly staying in Tampa long-term)

"Obviously I'm locked in for the next year. Tampa Bay area is a place I love to be. I've got to meet a lot of people, a lot of good people. I love the area. It's a place I could definitely see myself settling in and living here. If the long-term (deal) happens to come up, I'm definitely open ears for it."

(On the team dealing with all the losses this offseason, like Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, Matt Garza)

"Luckily, management and the organization has done a great job of keeping guys in the farm system that are able to step in and pick up where some of the guys left off. Yes it's not going to be Carl, not going to be Carlos, but at the same time, we have some good young guys who can come in where they left off."

(On what he's worked on in the offseason)

"I've been working out, trying to get stronger. Obviously, last year for me the average (.237 batting average) was definitely not acceptable for me. The rest of the numbers were there, but could definitely be better. For me, it's jsut trying to stop being as mechanical as I've been in the past. I think the last two years I'm more worried about being mechanical instead of letting my natural ability take over. I made some minor adjustments this offseason, but my main focus is going in with a clear mind and letting my ability take over."

Upton, who batted all over the lineup last season, said he'd love to hit anywhere from the top to the middle of the order. When asked if he felt he was a victim of his own very high potential/talent level, Upton said he understood that people in his position have high expectations attached to them, and he just has to work as hard as he can to get to where he wants to be.

(On if he feels he can be an All-Star centerfielder)

"Yes I do. Because I know I'm capable of it. If I didn't think I was capable of it, I wouldn't feel that way. I expect myself to be an All-Star, and am working hard to try to get to that point, and hopefully this is the year where I turn it around and can get that first All-Star game under my belt."

(On what he expects of this year's Rays)

"We're going to be a good ballclub. A lot of people wrote us out in 2008 too. We're in the American League East and it's a very tough division. But we find ourselves in a very similar situation that we were in 08. What a lot of people don't realize is that the people coming in, stepping in were there all last year, and yes we're not as experienced, but at the same time they've got some experience and and got to see what it's like to be on an winning ballclub and playoff-caliber ballclub.

"I don't think we're going to miss much. Obviously it's tough to fill the holes with those guys that left. But we've got some guys who can step right in."

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@sptimes.com

 

[Last modified: Saturday, February 19, 2011 12:15am]

    

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