09/17/11 3:47 PM ET
Upton turning it on for stretch run
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Over his past 12 games entering play Saturday, the Rays' center fielder hit .400 with three home runs, six doubles, 13 RBIs and a .509 on-base percentage.
Rays manager Joe Maddon attributed Upton's recent impact to the fact he's "accepting his walks."
"He's organized his strike zone again, he's not chasing out of the zone, and because he's not chasing when they come to him, he's been hitting the ball well," Maddon said. "Primarily, that's it."
Upton's younger brother, Justin, plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks and is a National League MVP candidate. Maddon was asked if he felt like seeing his brother's performance had inspired the elder Upton, to which he deferred the answer to Upton before adding that he's noticed a "real focus about him, conversationally."
"I listen to what he's saying among the other guys," Maddon said. "It's different in all the best ways. ... He's talking from the heart right now, and I think it's impacting his play in a positive way.
"He wants us to play in the World Series this year. He likes being in the World Series. He's been there and he did a real good job on the big stage in the past, and he kind of likes that stuff. And so I think that's what you're seeing right now. He's been there before, he knows what it feels like, he knows what it takes. I know he's young, but that's what I'm kind of getting about him right now. That's what I'm seeing."
Maddon moves on from Friday's ejection
BOSTON -- Joe Maddon expressed displeasure with the strike zone of home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in Friday night's game, which earned him an ejection from the game.
Saturday afternoon, the Rays' manager was asked if he had any further thoughts on the matter and he said, "Nope."
"I said what I said yesterday, and I meant everything that I did say," Maddon said. "Staying consistent with what I've said, I've talked about staying in the present tense and the moment, and that's about today."
Among Maddon's comments Friday night was his opinion that the strike zone was a one-sided affair -- extra wide for Red Sox pitchers and narrow for Rays hurlers. Maddon said he had "no idea" if he would be disciplined.
"I really don't," Maddon said. "I guess I'll find out soon enough."
A theory circulating among Rays fans is that Major League Baseball does not want the Rays to win. Maddon would have nothing to do with the notion that some sort of conspiracy theory against the Rays was in play.
"Never, I'll never believe that," Maddon said. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist anyway. I said what I said yesterday, it's time to move on to today. I don't live my life that way. ... Listen, I think I'm a free thinker. I permit everybody else to do the same. From my perspective, I've never, ever, ever had that thought."
James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson will be the starting pitchers for of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Yankees, with Shields on tap for Game 1.
Closer Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow soreness) is expected to play catch Sunday. If all goes well, he will likely throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and could be available for duty by Thursday.
Sam Fuld (strained ligament in his right wrist) will be examined by team orthopedic Koco Eaton, who is in Boston.
The Rays' seven stolen bases Friday night came up one short of the team record for steals in a game, a record established on May 3, 2009, against the Red Sox.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.