Rays frustrated about Upton's mistakes
Young outfielder not running out balls is becoming problematic
ST. PETERSBURG -- Cliff Floyd was visibly upset after Monday night's game, and it had nothing to do with the outcome of the Rays' 6-4 series-opening win over the Angels.
No, Floyd was venting about the "heart-hurting" frustration caused by outfielder B.J. Upton's performance in recent weeks.
"We shouldn't even be talking about this," Floyd said following Monday's game. "It makes my heart hurt."
Upton was benched on two separate occasions this month for not hustling on the basepaths, and on Monday night the outfielder once again made an offensive blunder. After a two-out single in the fourth inning, Upton tried to advance to second -- nonchalantly jogging to the unprotected base -- but Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira trailed Upton to easily tag him out.
"It bothered me," Floyd said of the play. "You get choked up, because, man, you've got something real special here. [Winning games is] the most amazing thing for this team in a long, long time. We don't need to be talking about this stuff."
While manager Joe Maddon has been vocal about the previous incidents involving Upton, the Rays skipper didn't appear to be angry about Monday's play, just disappointed.
"That's a mental mistake for me right there," Maddon said. "That's not a lack of effort. And again, it's an assumption. You don't believe the ball's going to go there. You are assuming that he's not going to throw there, it's not going to be an out there, etc., etc. And that's a part of our game that I want to get rid of."
Maddon won't seek any discipline -- noting that Upton will start as planned on Tuesday night -- but didn't let the young outfielder's mental lapses go completely scot-free.
"There's also moments in a baseball team, in a clubhouse, when the other 25 people need to take care of some things," Maddon said.
Floyd, a 13-year veteran, agreed.
"You've got a guy who, in my opinion, is going to be different," Floyd said. "I'm going to put my butt on the line by saying that. I'm going to do everything possible, and I think everybody in here is going to do everything possible to make sure it don't happen again. It's not in Joe's hands anymore. It's not in anybody else's hands but ours as players."
"We really haven't put our finger on what it is he's doing. He's going to get it right, trust me. He will get it right before I leave here."
Carlos Pena compared the other players' role to that of a sibling situation, saying the team's "big brothers" would help "little brother" -- the 23-year-old Upton -- in any way they can.
"It absolutely has no reflection on his character," Pena said. "He's a great kid. No one in the world feels worse when something like that happens then him. ... This is going to be handled as a family."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.