Monday, August 10, 2009

Upton not happy about batting ninth

No one expected B.J. Upton to be happy about his free-fall through the batting order from first to last, but his reaction has been a little, well, this is what he told the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday:

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

And ...

"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. I know I'm not a 9-hitter. I know I'm not a bottom-of-the-order type of guy," he said.

OK, here's the deal:

As the leadofff hitter, Upton killed the Rays, batting only .140 during his first at-bat of the 86 games he spent at the top of the order. If it wasn't for manager Joe Maddon's undying loyalty, Upton would have been dropped to seventh long ago.

That loyalty from his skipper might be one of the factors that will keep the Rays from the postseason.

This was no knee-jerk reaction by Maddon. Those 86 games were enough for Upton to prove that he is a top-of-the-order guy.

Maddon dropped Upton to seventh to take a little pressure off Upton and maybe help the center fielder regain his stroke. Then Maddon dropped Upton to eighth and now ninth.

Upton has only three hits in his 20 at-bats since being moved down the order in favor of Jason Bartlett. Nine of those 17 outs were strikeouts.

So, he's embarrassed. So what?

We all saw last October what Upton can do when he's swinging the bat well.

And, we saw during the first four months of the season what happens when Upton struggles.

Maybe the "kick in the face" is what Upton needs to pick up his offense, because patience and confidence from the manager didn't work.

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