Known more around the Tampa Bay area as B.J. during his eight years with the Rays, OF Melvin Upton Jr. returns to the Trop tonight for the first time since leaving as a free agent after the 2012 season.
The first two seasons of Upton's five-year, $75.25 million deal with the Braves didn't go well, but he improved after an April 2015 trade to San Diego and was having a solid 2016 season when dealt to Toronto in late July.
"I never quite got comfortable over there (in Atlanta), and it just didn't work out," said Upton, 32. "Definitely feeling back to myself but definitely think it's going to get better. ... I like where I'm at."
Upton, who still lives in Tampa, said he has been looking forward to coming back to face the Rays, though noting Evan Longoria is one of the few left he played with.
"It doesn't feel like that long, but thinking about it, it's been a while," he said. "Obviously a place that I'll always remember. That's where I started and had a lot of good times there."
Upton is hitting just .214 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 32 games for the Jays, .246 / 19 / 57 in 12 games overall for the season.
Upton asked to be known as Melvin in spring training 2015 in deference to his father of the same name. B.J. was short for Bossman Junior, which was also a tribute as his dad was known as Bossman.