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Braves consider asking B.J. Upton to head to minors

ATLANTA — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Friday he has considered asking CF B.J. Upton to work out his struggles in a minor-league assignment.

Upton, signed as a free agent in the offseason to the biggest contract in franchise history at five years, $75.25 million, has a .146 batting average, 109 points below his seven-year career mark with the Rays.

Gonzalez indicated that Upton has enough service time in the majors to refuse an assignment if he disagrees with the move.

"In my own mind, you think about those things, but really I haven't gotten to that point," Gonzalez said. "I think there's some logistics — contractual things and that sort of stuff — that they might not be able to do it that easy."

Upton was not available for comment before Atlanta hosted the Nationals.

Gonzalez has spoken with Upton about his absence from the lineup but not about an assignment in the minors.

"Like good players do, they want to play," Gonzalez said. "We've had conversations, and he's making the adjustments, and we'll see."

Upton is hitless in the Braves' past seven games. He was out of the lineup Friday for the second straight night. Gonzalez credited Upton and struggling teammates Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla for taking extra batting practice.

Late, late show: What appeared to be a routine game between the Royals and host Cardinals Thursday turned into something else because of a marathon rain delay and a decision to wait it out. The Royals beat the Cardinals 4-2 in a game that ended well after 3 a.m. Friday.

The first pitch was delayed an hour by rain. The game moved quickly after that, right up until the top of the ninth. With the Royals leading, the rain came back in force. Umpire crew chief Joe West had a decision to make.

Because it was the last meeting between the teams this season, a rule added this year allowed West to call the game in a decision that would have wiped out the top of the ninth and given the Cardinals a 2-1 win, based on the score from the previous completed inning.

West chose to wait out the rain. After 4 1/2 hours, the game resumed shortly after 3 a.m., and the final out came at 3:14.

The Royals left for Texas, and the Cardinals went to sleep before hosting the Giants.

Strasburg exits early: Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg left his start against the Braves after two innings with a strained right oblique. He grimaced after throwing a changeup with one out in the second inning, then got a grounder and a strikeout. Craig Stammen relieved. Strasburg was to head back to Washington for more evaluation.

More Nationals: OF Bryce Harper sat out for a fifth straight game with bursitis in his left knee. Manager Davey Johnson said he was unlikely to play this weekend.

Cards-Giants postponed: Rain forced the Giants and Cardinals to play a day-night doubleheader today.

Ailing Ellsbury: Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole a team-record five bases Thursday at Philadelphia, was removed from the starting lineup Friday because of a tight left groin. Ellsbury felt the tightness during his final steal and is day-to-day.

Phillies: RHP Chad Durbin, a member of the 2008 World Series team, was released after surrendering 16 earned runs in 16 innings this year.

Braves consider asking B.J. Upton to head to minors 05/31/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 1, 2013 12:58am]

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