04/19/12 8:00 PM ET
Upton expected back with team Friday
By Larry Millson and Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
Upton, who has yet to play a Major League game this season, played in a doubleheader Wednesday for Double-A Montgomery with no reported setbacks.
"He should be, no reason to think he shouldn't be," Maddon said, when asked if Upton would be ready for Friday. "Every reason is that he would be back. There would have to be something unforeseen happening between now and then."
In seven rehab games between Class A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, Upton hit .143 (3-for-21) with two runs scored, two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
"I've heard good things," Maddon said, about Upton's rehab assignment. "A lot of good contact, he's moving well, good at-bats, legs are good. His typical game is coming back in order."
Upton provides the Rays with another right-handed power bat to pencil in the middle of the order and his combination of power and speed is something his skipper is looking forward to getting back.
"B.J. definitely makes us a better team," Maddon said. "We saw the way he finished the end of last season. It may take a little time to get him going, based on a sporadic Spring Training and then going on the rehab assignment, but it's good to get him back. Makes everything better. Makes our defense better, adds more speed to the bases and a power bat. Definite improvement for us."
The 27-year-old stole 36 bases last season after swiping 40-plus the previous three years, and hit 23 homers in 2011, one off his career high set in 2007. He finished the season strong, hitting .333 in September with five homers and 20 RBIs, while swiping nine bases.
His return will shift Desmond Jennings, who has been playing in center, over to left field. Maddon is excited about how much stronger Upton's range makes a Tampa team that is already strong defensively.
"It's so nice," said Maddon, when asked how beneficial his defense is to his pitchers. "When you stand in the dugout every night and watch us on the field, we've gotten really spoiled. When the ball is hit, you know you have a pretty good shot of catching it.
"We cover well in the outfield, our infield covers the same kind of game on defense. We are fun to watch on defense."
Upton was placed on the disabled list on April 4 with a sore lower back retroactive to March 26. He has been out since March 14 after a collision with Jennings.
Maddon sees Allen fitting right in with Rays
TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Rays are expected to make a corresponding move Friday after they claimed left-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman Brandon Allen off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
"Big bat, a lot of pop," manager Joe Maddon said before Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays. "I know he's had a little bit of a swing-and-miss issue historically. But he's also had big power. We've done some work on it. We have some ideas in regards of how to approach this whole thing."
Maddon said Allen is primarily a first baseman although he has also played the outfield.
"I heard he's a great guy," Maddon said. "I heard he's an 80 makeup guy, which is the highest grade you can give an athlete. I'm looking forward to meeting him. I don't know him at all except from what I've heard. But he sounds like he fits our profile."
Maddon said he was not certain yet how Allen would be used.
"The big thing I know is that his bat plays really big," he said. "He's carried some pretty big Triple-A numbers. We have ideas."
Allen was designated for assignment on April 9 to make room for first baseman Daric Barton who was returning from the disabled list. The A's acquired Allen from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a deal for pitcher Brad Ziegler at last year's trade deadline.
He has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, batting .205 (68-for-331) with 11 HR, 38 RBI and 40 walks in 109 games with the Diamondbacks (2009-11) and A's (2011-12). He was 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in three games with the A's this season.
Over eight minor-league seasons, Allen has hit .268 with a .355 on-base percentage and 142 home runs in the Chicago White Sox, Diamondbacks and A's organizations. Last season he hit .299 (103-for-344) with 21 HR and 72 RBI in 93 games split between Triple-A Reno (Diamondbacks) and Triple-A Sacramento (A's). He was selected by the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and was dealt to Arizona on July 7, 2009 for Tony Peña.
To make room for him on the 40-man roster, catcher Robinson Chirinos has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
With moves looming, Vogt grateful
TORONTO -- Rookie catcher/outfielder Stephen Vogt understands the situation.
With first baseman/outfielder Brandon Allen being claimed off waivers Thursday from Oakland and center fielder B.J. Upton coming off the disabled list on Friday, there are roster changes on the horizon.
The rookie knows one of the moves could involve him. Entering Thursday's game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre he was 0-for-13 in six games and still looking for his first major-league hit.
"It's been fun," he said before the game. "It's been good to be part of the team. Obviously I'm not happy with the way I've been playing. I expect more of myself and I know I can help the team and be able to come through.
"I got a good taste of what American League pitchers are like, some of the best in the game. That's a good experience for me to have. If I do go down tomorrow, or whenever the day is, I'll be ready to play and hopefully I'll go down there and do well if I go down."
The 27-year-old has batted .305 with an on-base percentage of .362, 35 homers and 257 RBIs in 427 minor-league games.
If he is demoted, he said, "It's been a good experience and I'm definitely going to be prepared when I get my next opportunity."
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.