B.J. Upton Restrained After Heated Dugout Exchange With Evan Longoria
B.J. Upton had to be restrained by Willy Aybar and other Rays teammates in the club's dugout at Tropicana Field Sunday afternoon after a heated discussion with third baseman Evan Longoria.
The exchange (video here) came as Longoria and Upton returned to the dugout following the top of the fifth inning and appeared to be initiated by the star third baseman. Longoria seemed to question Upton's effort on a drive into the left-center field gap by Diamondbacks utilityman Rusty Ryal.
Ryal was able, at least in part, to leg out a triple on the play because the speedy Upton loafed after the ball.
Upton reacted to Longoria's challenge by yelling and angrily pointing his finger in the third baseman's face before Aybar and others were able to come between the two players.
"B.J. came in off the field after that particular play and everybody saw it, and some guys were not really pleased and certain things were said," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He was set up on the other side -- in other words a right-handed hitter he set up in right-center field and the guy pulled it into left-center. He just did not run as hard as he possibly could have after the ball, that was obvious. That one there just didn't have a good look to it."
Maddon called Longoria's actions a "great example" for his team, something that makes it look like Upton was clearly in the wrong. Given his past run-ins with Maddon on this very issue, Upton probably isn't going to get much sympathy from his manager, much less anyone else.
Both players had little to say about the altercation after the game, a 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
"It's a byproduct of a frustrated team," Longoria said. "We're trying to win games and guys are going to have differences of opinion. I just wanted to know what was going through his head. The bottom line, we've talked about it and it goes no further than today."
Said Upton: "A little run-in. It's done with and move on. ... Maybe I should have cut it off, but it's over with now."
The uber-talented center fielder remains one of baseball's biggest mysteries. A former No. 2 overall pick, Upton is blessed with just about every tool, but other than a sterling 2007 campaign and an absurd seven-homer postseason in 2008, he's never been able to put it all together.
Upton entered play Sunday with a .226 batting average, seven home runs and 29 RBI, and he's part of an offense that is becoming a bit of a concern just as the Rays have fallen back to the AL East pack after a red-hot start.
Frustration is high with Upton, just as it is team-wide. Tampa Bay has gone 10-12 in June despite being gifted a relatively easy interleague slate that included Arizona, the Marlins and the Padres. The Rays have an off day Monday, time during which Maddon could decide to discipline Upton, then start a two-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park Tuesday.
With the Red Sox's win over the Giants later in the afternoon, Tampa Bay will head into that showdown behind Boston and alone in third place for the first time since early April