When the Atlanta Braves acquired B.J. and Justin Upton this offseason, almost all of Braves Country anticipated the dynamic duo to be a dominant force in the middle of the lineup. But, one of the brothers is not living up to his end of the deal.
B.J. Upton, who signed a franchise-record five-year, $75.25 million contract in November, is in the midst of his worst season as a big leaguer, hitting just .146 to go along with 62 strikeouts in 158 at-bats.
These numbers are so concerning that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is considering asking the eight-year veteran to take a brief stint down in the minor leagues to work on his swing.
“It’s a hard decision,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a decision that you take very, very seriously. You talk collectively with your coaches about it, and it’s something always falls on my shoulders, right? That’s fine. I’m comfortable with that. But you’ve got to think about 25 [players], six staff members, four clubhouse guys, the front office and the fans.”
Gonzalez acknowledged that due to Upton’s veteran status, he has the right to deny the demotion if he disagrees.
Upton hasn’t notched a hit in the Braves’ last seven games and was benched Friday for the second consecutive night in favor of rookie Evan Gattis, who leads all rookies with 12 homers and 32 runs batted in.
“He understands to a certain point,” Gonzalez said regarding Upton’s playing time. “Like good players do, they want to play. We’ve had conversations and he’s making the adjustments and we’ll see.”
Even though B.J. hasn’t been experiencing much success this season, his younger brother Justin seems to be seeing the ball well. The 25-year-old Upton has 14 home runs and 29 RBIs to go along with a .541 slugging percentage through 54 games.
Perhaps the youngster can show some brotherly love and share some of his secrets for his good fortune at the plate. In the meantime, Braves fans can only hope B.J. will return to his former self, as the outfielder racked up 28 home runs and 78 RBIs for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.
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