Justin Upton spent his first six seasons in the major leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks until trade rumors this past offseason finally came to fruition.
Well, guess who's back at Chase Field?
Upton and his Atlanta Braves will invade the desert for three games, starting with Monday night's series opener. Arizona had been trying to deal Upton all winter and sent the slugger to Atlanta in a seven-player deal in January. The Diamondbacks reportedly had a trade in place with the Mariners, but Upton apparently invoked his limited no-trade clause.
He talked about coming home earlier this week.
"I think it's going to be cool," said Upton, who is batting .269 with 12 homers and 21 RBI this season. "I'm going to spend a few days in my own house, sleep in my own bed and play in surroundings that I'm used to. I had a blast playing there and being a part of those winning teams. A lot of friendships and relationships that I had in Arizona, they were great and I enjoyed my time there."
The two-time All-Star batted .280 with 17 homers and 67 runs batted in last season and enjoyed career bests of 31 homers and 88 RBI in 2011, winning a Silver Slugger Award in the process, while finishing fourth in the NL MVP voting. Upton had his fair share of highs and lows with the D'backs, who finally decided his time was up and parted ways. The deal with the Braves enabled Upton to join forces with his brother, B.J.
Atlanta will finish the back end of a 10-game road trip with Arizona and lost three of four matchups with the Giants over the weekend. The Braves took the opener of the set, but lost the last three meetings, including Sunday's 5-1 loss at AT&T Park. Kris Medlen continued his struggles and fell to 1-5 on the season, as he permitted five runs -- three earned -- in 5 1/3 innings.
"It's a very bad day to have a bad day," Medlen said. "It's just a tough outing overall, just terribly executed pitches overall."
Evan Gattis drove in the lone run for the Braves, who are just one game ahead of the Washington Nationals for first in the NL East and fell to 3-4 on the trek. Atlanta is hoping outfielder Jason Heyward can make a return to the big league club soon and he is currently on a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. Heyward is scheduled to play Monday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Mike Minor gets the call for the Braves in Monday's opener and is coming off a solid performance the last time out in a 7-2 win at Cincinnati. He held the Reds to just a run and four hits in seven innings and struck out seven. Minor is 4-2 on the season with a 2.96 ERA in seven outings and won his only career start against the D'backs last April 19 in a 10-2 win. The lefty gave up two runs -- one earned -- in eight innings.
Minor has been tough on the road as evidenced by his 3-1 mark and 3.55 ERA.
Arizona just split a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies and lost the last two installments at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks had a five-game winning streak stopped with Saturday's 3-1 loss, then suffered a 4-2 setback in 10 innings on Mother's Day.
Heath Bell took the hill in the top of the ninth inning looking to close it out with a 2-0 lead, but was charged with two runs. Delmon Young had an RBI double and Domonic Brown followed with a run-scoring single to even the score. Matt Reynolds toed the rubber for the D'backs in the top of the 10th and surrendered a two-run single to Ryan Howard, who had been 0-for-17 with 10 strikeouts in the series.
"We were trying to go in on him," Reynolds said of Howard. "It was down, but it just caught too much of the plate. He went down and fished it out of there. That's the way it goes."
It was truly a wasted effort by starter Brandon McCarthy, who did not figure into the decision and pitched eight scoreless innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
"He pitched an outstanding game. It's a tough pill to swallow when you're the bullpen and you can't come through and finish the job for him," Reynolds said of McCarthy. "It's tough for him, too; that's the best game he's thrown all year and he doesn't get the win out of it."
The Diamondbacks fell two games behind San Francisco for the NL West lead after Giants won their series finale versus the Braves.
Wade Miley will take the mound for Arizona Monday and he is 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in seven starts. He threw 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 win at Los Angeles on Wednesday, ending a four-start winless drought (0-1). The left- hander is 0-1 in two career games (1 start) against the Braves to go along with a less-than-stellar 12.71 ERA.
Arizona lost five of seven meetings with the Braves a season ago and eight of the previous 10 matchups between the two clubs.