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Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton upset after being moved to ninth in lineup

SEATTLE — B.J. Upton's frustration with his poor season has been made worse by the sting of being dropped to the No. 9 spot in the Rays lineup.

"It's almost like a kick in the face," Upton said.

Upton said he was "definitely" hurt by the further demotion after being taken out of the leadoff slot last week, dropped initially to seventh, then eighth and now ninth. He is 3-for-20 (.150) with nine strikeouts in the five games since.

"To go from being a leadoff guy and last year hitting (No.) 2, 3, maybe 4 … it's just like I'm back where I started (as a 19-year-old rookie). I was in the 9-hole, the 8-hole and kind of worked my way up," Upton said. "I know I'm not a 9-hitter. I know I'm not a bottom-of-the-order type of guy."

Upton, 24, said he isn't letting his displeasure affect his play and isn't pouting, even joking that he's primarily a defensive player now and that the 9-hole "is like the other leadoff spot."

He said he is not using the demotion as motivation, instead focusing on some slight changes in his batting approach that he is confident will improve his performance (.239, seven homers, 37 RBIs) and earn him a promotion.

"I'm not going to let this go on for too much longer," he said. "I'm in here every day working on what I need to work on trying to get it right. It's just not working. When it starts working, you know what's going to happen. I'll work my way back up again."

PERCY DONE? RHP Troy Percival hasn't announced his retirement, but after corresponding with him last week, manager Joe Maddon is under the impression his career is over.

"I think so," Maddon said.

Maddon invited Percival, who has been home in Southern California since going on the DL in May, to visit the team during the upcoming three days in Anaheim.

Agent Paul Cohen said Sunday that no decision has been made but Percival has been having severe back problems and will see a specialist this week with the possibility of needing a fusion. Percival, who turned 40 on Sunday, had back surgery during the offseason.

"It's been very, very problematic," Cohen said. "It's been tough for him."

Maddon would like to see the former closer get credit for what he did for the Rays and suggested the team have a day to honor him: "He was such a big part of what we did last year, and people have kind of forgotten about that way too fast."

CATCHING ON: Listening to Maddon's plans, it sure sounds like Gregg Zaun is going to be the primary catcher.

Though Zaun and Dioner Navarro are both switch-hitters, Zaun will play against right-handers and Navarro against lefties. Maddon did say that, at least initially, he won't start Zaun three or four days in a row as a concern of soreness or injury because he is 38 and hadn't been playing regularly. Zaun will start tonight and Tuesday, Navarro on Wednesday.

HOMECOMING: Sunday night, Maddon planned to host the Rays traveling staff and broadcasters at his new house in Long Beach, Calif. (The team actually flew to Long Beach and had a separate bus lined up for the house party squad.)

Tonight, he'll feel at home at Angel Stadium, where he worked before being hired by the Rays and still has many friends, including, seemingly, the entire stadium staff.

Maddon tries to downplay any rivalry aspect, but it's not coincidence that five of his 11 ejections as Rays manager have come against the Angels. Overall, Maddon is 12-17 against former boss Mike Scioscia, 1-10 in Anaheim.

MISCELLANY: RHP Russ Springer made his Rays debut, allowing two hits but no runs in the eighth. … 3B Evan Longoria will have a large group of family and friends in Anaheim, about 20 minutes from where he grew up. … The Angels haven't named a Wednesday starter. But with LHP Joe Saunders on the DL, they are expected to call up RHP Trevor Bell to make his debut. … OF Fernando Perez (left wrist) played center and went 0-for-3 in a rehab game for Class A Charlotte. RHP Chad Bradford (back) allowed one hit in an inning's work.

Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton upset after being moved to ninth in lineup 08/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 10, 2009 6:51am]
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