01/27/09 2:31 PM EST
Upton hosts first charity golf event
Rays center fielder raises money to help those in need
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"Nobody's going to see my [golf] game today," Upton said, wearing a smile upon his arrival. "[My] game's garbage anyway. But they'll be able to see my brother's game and some of the other guys."
The first B.J. Upton Celebrity Golf Classic convened Tuesday morning at Hunter's Green Country Club in Tampa. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be the beneficiary of the event Upton hopes to make a staple for the future.
Among those attending were teammates Scott Kazmir, Chad Orvella, Dan Wheeler, Andy Sonnanstine and James Shields, along with other Major Leaguers, including Upton's brother, Justin, Chris Young, Ryan Zimmerman, Dexter Fowler, Joel Hanrahan, Boof Bonser, former Major Leaguer Brian McRae, former NHL player Dave Andreychuk, wrestler Nasty Nobs and others.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which sits a few blocks away from where Upton patrols center field at Tropicana Field, provides three meals a day 365 days a year for the hungry and homeless of St. Petersburg. They also provide a night shelter and other services for those in need. Upton took an interest in their work in the community and wanted to help. He hopes to raise money for the hungry, the homeless and the poor of St. Petersburg.
"I wanted to do something for the community," Upton said. "Obviously the homeless situation in the Tampa Bay area is pretty significant. It's just something I wanted to help out with."
Having that mind-set, Upton said he called his representatives with Reynolds Sports Management, "to see if we could get something going." They suggested a golf tournament, and much to Upton's approval, the B.J. Upton Celebrity Golf Classic came to fruition.
"This is something that I've always told them they need to do, whether it's back at home or down here," said Yvonne Upton, B.J. and Justin's mother. "And I'm hoping in the future my son Justin can do something similar in Arizona. I'm very proud of both of them, have been since they were little boys."
The Rays' Upton, 24, hit .273 with nine home runs, 67 RBIs and a career-high 44 stolen bases in 2008. However, he dealt with unspecified left shoulder damage, which was a big reason why his home run total dropped by 15 from '07.
"I knew there was something wrong the whole time, but I chose to stay on the field and play," Upton said. "That was my decision, and I had to deal with what came with it. And luckily, we still had a good year."
Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery on Nov. 11 in Birmingham, Ala., repairing the labrum in Upton's left shoulder.
Upton said his shoulder is doing well.
"[I'm] feeling good," Upton said. "[I] took some dry swings [Monday] for the first time, about 35. They said once I can swing, maybe 30 swings full bore, then I'll be ready to go."
Upton is expected to miss the first week of the 2009 season, but he should be ready by the home opener against the Yankees on April 13.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.