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UPTON UNFAZED, HOPES TO STAY

Given the events of the past 10 days, the sight of B.J. Upton's Tropicana Field locker emptied out Tuesday afternoon was only slightly startling.

Upton, it turned out, did want a change of scenery: moving across the room to the locker he had during his career-best 2007 season and that had previously been occupied by Dioner Navarro.

But as the first of what are likely to be many trade rumors swirled Tuesday - a Twitter post from Peter Gammons about a potential deal involving Seattle's Cliff Lee - Upton said he "definitely" doesn't want to leave the Rays.

"I couldn't pick a better 24 guys to be around," he said. "It's where I started; they've been a big part of my success. I don't want to go anywhere else. But if it happens, it happens - that's what has to be done."

Recent events have put Upton more in the spotlight, as he has been criticized for a lack of hustle, involved in a dugout altercation with teammate Evan Longoria, held out of the lineup and made his feelings about being benched known. He returned to the lineup Tuesday.

All that might lead to even more rumors, but Upton said he won't let the chatter bother him.

"You know it's coming every July whether it's me or anybody else in this clubhouse," he said. "There's always talks about it. So you can't look into it, you can't let it affect you, you've just got to go out there and keep playing. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'm going to do my job either way."

Manager Joe Maddon said that he hopes Upton doesn't allow this rumor, or any others, to become an issue.

"I just hope he takes it in a positive way," Maddon said. "I don't know how those things actually get started. He's a young fellow, and you would think it would bother a young guy more than a veteran type, and then it is compounded by the more recent events, and I understand all of that, but there's nothing I can really add to it or tell him because there's nothing from our end regarding that that's true."

C.C. UPDATE: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg raved about the play of All-Star LF Carl Crawford but didn't offer much hope in terms of keeping the free-agent-to-be beyond this season. Though Sternberg said "remains to be seen" if the Rays could afford to keep Crawford, he acknowledged it will be "difficult."

SHOUSE IN THE HOUSE: LH reliever Brian Shouse was brought back on a minor-league deal with an eye toward providing some late-season, even September, help. "That could be beneficial to us," Maddon said. "Yeah, definitely, the plans are to get him back up here."

Shouse, idle since being released by Boston in spring training, will first rehab a knee sprain with the GCL team in Port Charlotte. He was 1-1, 4.50 in 45 games for the Rays last season.

MISCELLANY: The withdrawal of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera from the All-Star Game could open a spot for Rafael Soriano. ... With Jason Bartlett's third-inning swipe of second, the Rays reached 100 steals before the All-Star break for a third straight season. ... C Kelly Shoppach also switched lockers, moving into the one occupied previously by no-longer-here Pat Burrell and Hank Blalock. ... Maddon said - for now - he'll rotate Upton, Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez in the leadoff spot. ... 1B Kevin Youkilis became the latest injured Red Sox player, leaving during a fourth-inning at-bat with what was announced as "a right ankle pain." ... Advanced Class A Charlotte RHP Joe Cruz was named FSL pitcher of the week after going 1-0 with 14 scoreless innings. ... RHP Zach Quate earned his 15th save at Charlotte, lowering his ERA to 0.42 with 58 strikeouts and eight walks in 422/3 innings. ... Boston ace Josh Beckett, who has been on the DL with a lower back strain since May 19, threw a simulated game against rookie-level players Tuesday at the Trop.

Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report.

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