Published June 29, 2010
BOSTON (AP) — Center fielder B.J. Upton was not in the starting lineup against Boston on Tuesday night, and Rays manager Joe Maddon said it was not because of Upton's confrontation with teammate Evan Longoria in the dugout Sunday.
Upton and Longoria had to be separated after Upton failed to run hard after a ball in left-center field during the Rays' 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks. Longoria said something to Upton when the Rays got back to the dugout before the two exchanged heated words.
Also, outfielder Carl Crawford returned from a three-game absence because of left shoulder soreness to play in left.
"I just did not want to start him tonight, just based on a lot of different items that I'm looking at," Maddon said about Upton before Tuesday night's game. "Often times I don't start somebody day after a day off. Sometimes that's part of the reason. I just chose to not start him tonight, but he's definitely available for the game."
Asked if the move had anything to do with what happened Sunday, Maddon said, "No. Not at all."
Maddon added: "Purely because I wanted to give him the night off. Just all things considered I wanted to give him tonight off."
Maddon said Upton would "possibly" be back in the lineup Wednesday night.
Upton, who has been disciplined by Maddon before for a lack of hustle was 3 for 21 on the recently completed homestand, and 0 for 9 with three walks in the series against Arizona.
The manager said he spoke to the parties involved, with most of the talking apparently done to Upton.
"We've had a lot of conversations lately," he said. "After the game the other day, we went yesterday and then also today, had some wonderful conversations — very frank. I just wanted to share with him some of my past experiences as a young man and as a manager today.
"He's a wonderful young man. See, that's the thing I don't want to get lost in all this — B.J. is really, really one of my favorite people. This is a good guy. I think sometimes it's interpreted another way — not a malicious bone in his body. Wonderful young man, we talked things through and everything's fine."
Upton said he and his manager "Just cleared the air," adding, "We both came to an agreement and we'll just move on."
Maddon said he thought the confrontation would turn out to be a positive thing for the Rays, who have been struggling. The manager also liked the fact that the 24-year-old Longoria stepped forward as a sign of being a leader on a young team.
"Sometimes this positive turnaround, something good that's going to happen, is definitely cloaked in some weird clothing at times," he said. "Maybe the clothing was this incident and now all of a sudden, we're going to be able to move forward."
Maddon said altercations such as these aren't uncommon, even though they don't usually take place in the dugout.
"What it really boils down to is there are a lot of things that will occur during the course of a day or in the clubhouse that the manager should never hear about nor should a coach hear about," he said. "Thus, you have to have players that are willing to step up and say something to somebody else if they know they're getting away from our concept of doing things. That was just a little bit more public.
"But, I like it. I like it a lot. I'm really proud of the way our guys handled the whole moment."