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Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton still biding his time as trade rumors swirl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — B.J. Upton figures to either have a short final week as a Ray or a long week waiting to find out if he'll remain one.

Speculation over a possible trade mounted again Sunday when Upton was held out of the lineup, though manager Joe Maddon insisted the day off had been planned several days ago.

That followed Upton being removed unexpectedly from Friday's game — though he played Saturday — and the promotion of top prospect Desmond Jennings. (Plus, Jennings played Upton's centerfield spot Sunday though the Rays say the plan is to use Jennings regularly in left.)

Upton reiterated Sunday that he wants to stay with the Rays. But, more than anything, it sounds like he would prefer resolution of the situation as soon as possible before Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver deals. He also added the Phillies to the list of teams he has heard are supposedly interested.

"I just got the day off (Sunday). I think that's what it is. I hope that's what it is," Upton said. "It's become a comedy to me. So whatever. There's something new every day — San Fran, Cleveland, Washington, Philly. I mean, what is it? I don't know.

"I'm to the point where I don't even care. If it happens, it happens."

Upton said his preference is to stay with the Rays, and he didn't want to say which of the possible destinations was more appealing. "If I had to go? I don't know," he said. "Still nowhere."

DAZZLING DESMOND: Jennings had another impressive game, following Saturday's two-extra-base hit, two-walk debut with a two-hit, two-hit-by-pitch game. That makes him the first Ray to reach base four times in his first two games of the season and the second Rays rookie to do so in consecutive games. (The other — for when you're done guessing — was Brent Abernathy in 2001). The last Ray to do so in back-to-back games was Jason Bartlett in 2009. "I feel good at the plate," Jennings said.

HIT CLUB: The Rays were hit by pitches a team-record-tying four times, three in a four-batter sequence in the sixth (that led to two runs): Sean Rodriguez and Jennings hit by Felipe Paulino, and Ben Zobrist by reliever Blake Wood. They were the first team to be hit three times in an inning since Sept. 23, 2010 — when they were also the victims, plunked by the Yankees' Javier Vazquez. Those are the only times in the past three seasons a team was hit thrice in an inning.

ODD STAT OF THE DAY: 3B Evan Longoria struck out four times for only the second game in his career. And both times, he also knocked in the winning run. "That's pretty obscure," he said.

On Aug. 4, 2009, against Boston, he struck out three times, hit a tying homer in the eighth, was walked and struck out in his next at-bats, then hit a walkoff homer in the 13th. Sunday wasn't as dramatic as he struck out, singled in the first run, then struck out three more times.

MEDICAL MATTERS: C John Jaso (oblique strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list today, but he isn't close. He isn't likely to take part in full workouts until the Rays return home Aug. 2 and will likely need a few minor-league rehab games. … C Jose Lobaton (left knee sprain) will be out even longer. … RHP Juan Cruz (groin strain) will throw a bullpen session today in St. Petersburg and could make a rehab appearance by the weekend.

MISCELLANY: Starters James Shields and Wade Davis were both in the bullpen Sunday for potential duty. … RHP Alex Cobb hasn't allowed a homer in 40 innings since giving one up to Hank Conger in the second inning of his debut vs. the Angels. … Rays pitchers combined for their eighth shutout.

Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton still biding his time as trade rumors swirl 07/24/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 24, 2011 10:58pm]

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