07/24/11 2:37 PM ET
Upton's off-day fuels rumors, amuses Maddon
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Top prospect Desmond Jennings started in center field for Sunday afternoon's game. According to Maddon, Upton did not start due to the simple fact he was due a day off.
"I had this planned before this series began," Maddon said. "He played all of those games at home on the turf. I just wanted to give his legs a break. Today was a good day, a day game after a night game like this. Then we'll go to Oakland and he'll play all of the games on the rest of the road trip."
Upton has been linked in rumors to at least six teams, so every day that he's in the Rays' clubhouse brings abuse from his teammates, who never fail to ask: "You're still here?"
Upton is hopeful he will not be traded.
"I don't want to go anywhere," he said.
Meanwhile, Maddon continues to derive a daily smile from how much is read into any of his moves concerning players rumored to be on the trading block.
"Love it," Maddon said. "And again, there's no deviousness about it. ... [Upton getting the day off] was planned. What can I say?"
Strikeouts still problem for Rays' hitters
KANSAS CITY -- Not only did Saturday night bring a 5-4 extra-innings loss to the Rays, it also brought a season high in strikeouts. Tampa Bay hitters struck out 15 times against Kansas City.
Included in the strikeouts were the Rays' final two at-bats of the night. Pinch-hitter Sam Fuld and Elliot Johnson both watched called third strikes from Royals reliever Joakim Soria to terminate a bases-loaded threat in the top of the 10th without any runs scored. The Royals then won the game in the bottom half of the inning.
Joe Maddon has always called the strikeout a "part of our culture" but even the Rays manager seemed frustrated following Saturday night's loss when he noted: "We struck out, what, 15 times? That's a lot."
The 15 strikeouts were the most since Aug. 8, 2010, when Toronto's Brandon Morrow struck out 17 in a complete-game one-hitter.
Entering Sunday's action, the Rays were tied with the Indians for the most strikeouts in the American League with 733. B.J. Upton ranked fifth in the league with 98 K's.
"Actually, I did address [strikeouts] post All-Star Game with the group," Maddon said. "You're going to strike out, but we have to be able to move the ball more consistently, especially with runners in scoring position."
Maddon maintains there are times when the strikeout doesn't "bother you as much and there's time when the strikeout bothers you a whole lot more."
"Nobody on, two outs, you're trying to hit a double or more, then a strikeout doesn't bother you as much," Maddon said. "Runners on third base with less than two outs, you mind it more. That's why I don't think you can take the strikeout and put it in one barrel and say it's just a strikeout.
"There are different moments in the game when it's more impactful. Last night, for example, taking third strikes. We've got to do better than that."
According to Stats, Inc., Desmond Jennings is the third American League rookie since 1954 to record a triple, an intentional walk and a stolen base in a game, joining Minnesota's Ben Revere on June 29 and California's Jay Johnstone (Aug. 7, 1966).
Johnny Damon tied Roberto Alomar with his 504th career double on Saturday night while surpassing Andre Dawson (503).
Manager Joe Maddon said that John Jaso might re-join the team in Seattle to begin workouts in advance of his return to action. The Rays catcher went on the disabled list on July 15 with a right-oblique strain.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.