Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

B.J. Upton not thrilled, will try to cope with drop from top of Tampa Bay Rays lineup

ST. PETERSBURG — CF B.J. Upton was not happy with manager Joe Maddon's decision to drop him from the leadoff spot to seventh in the Rays lineup.

"I'm a little upset but I guess I brought that on myself," Upton said.

Maddon thought long and hard about the switch, which first entered his mind a month ago and was cemented after Sunday's loss. He plans to keep SS Jason Bartlett atop the order "for a bit" in an attempt to take some pressure off Upton and get both him and the offense going.

Upton said he would do what he could to help the team. Willy Aybar started at DH for the second straight game, with Maddon saying they want to get him in the lineup more (including at second base, which would move Ben Zobrist to the outfield). DH Pat Burrell, however, is expected to return to the lineup by tonight or this weekend, with Upton's switch lasting longer.

"Obviously I haven't been producing up there so maybe it's time for a change," Upton said. "Just deal with it and move on. Do what I can to get back up there. … It's his team, he can do what he wants to do. Like I said, I'll help this team any way I can. And if he feels the best way for me to do that is in the seventh spot or wherever it may be, that's what I'll do."

Upton is hitting .242 in the leadoff spot, but his on-base percentage has dipped to .317, which is Maddon's primary area of concern. He wants to "take the pressure off him to jump-start the offense" and wants Upton to show more discipline at the plate and "reorganize his strike zone."

Upton also discounted the theory that he was putting additional pressure on himself from the leadoff spot. "No, not at all," he said. "I take the same approach regardless of what spot I'm in."

Bartlett, meanwhile, said he was up for the challenge of hitting leadoff. "Whatever he wants; I'm ready to go either way," he said. "I've been in that nine hole pretty much all year, and Joe always said it's like another leadoff spot after that first (at-bat). That lineup just keeps turning over so it really doesn't matter. I'll get one more AB, and hopefully it'll turn out for the best."

BACK ON TRACK: Burrell spent more than half an hour doing early batting practice and small ball under the watchful eye and instruction of Maddon. Maddon said Burrell, who is hitting .226 and has 11 strikeouts this homestand, is working on some small mechanical adjustments.

"The biggest thing we've been talking about is the way he starts his swing, actually," Maddon said. "It's nothing really complicated."

FLASHBACK: LHP David Price will get to face the Red Sox for the first time since he closed them out in Game 7 of the ALCS, an experience he said he'll never forget, one "where I put myself on the map."

Price, 23, had picked up his first big-league win in Game 2 of the ALCS, getting the final two outs in the 11th inning. And in Game 7, he picked up the final four outs, including striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded.

"I remember it all," Price said. "Pitch by pitch."

That being said, Price said tonight's start presents a new challenge.

"This is going to be different than that," he said. "This is a new year, a new game. They've got a different team, we've got a little different team. It's going to be a different feel out there. But it's going to be fun."

MINOR MATTERS: OF Fernando Perez is scheduled to hit in a simulated session today in Port Charlotte before beginning a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Rays Thursday, moving up to the Charlotte Stone Crabs Saturday. … The Rays' average attendance on the home-stand is 30,467 (243,735 total). … 3B Evan Longoria has homered in six of his past 21 games.

Joe Smith can be reached at

B.J. Upton not thrilled, will try to cope with drop from top of Tampa Bay Rays lineup 08/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 6:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.