Maddon tinkers with lineup vs. Bucs
Upton bats leadoff with Iwamura serving three-game suspension
PITTSBURGH -- Rays manager Joe Maddon had to tinker with his lineup for Saturday night's game against the Pirates.
With Akinori Iwamura beginning his three-game suspension, Maddon was stuck without a leadoff hitter. So the third-year skipper decided to ask B.J. Upton if he was up to the task.
"I've always kind of liked the leadoff spot," Upton said. "It was a pretty quick answer for me.
"I'm kind of looking forward to it," he added. "I'll take some pitches, but I won't change my approach at all."
The emergency move will mark Upton's first appearance in the leadoff spot this season. He has batted in the third spot 56 times, the cleanup spot 20 times and ninth once.
Maddon said it was basically a no-brainer to move Upton up in the lineup because of the 23-year-old's patience at the plate and his high on-base percentage (.346).
Maddon also moved third baseman Evan Longoria into the third spot, kept Eric Hinske at cleanup and moved Carlos Pena into the fifth spot. It won't be until July 1 -- when Iwamura comes off his suspension -- that Maddon will have his entire lineup intact.
Willy Aybar started at second in Iwamura's absence.
"I thought out of all the choices made, B.J. was the most appropriate," Maddon said. "[Upton] is kind of a leadoff hitter at heart, [and] it's a spot I'm sure he can play on a regular basis. But he's got all these other abilities, too. There's not a dramatic adjustment with him."
Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.