B.J. Upton Benched?
For the second game in a row and third in the past four, Braves center fielder B.J. Upton didn’t start. According to a report by AJC beat writer, Dave O’Brien, Upton is sitting out to work on his swing.
Saturday night against the Mets, Jason Heyward started in center. Monday and Tuesday against the Blue Jays, Jordan Schafer started. Tuesday marks the first time all season that B.J. Upton didn’t start consecutive games.
Schafer, who doesn’t hit lefties very well, even started in place of the right-handed hitting Upton against Toronto’s left-handed starter, Mark Buehrle, on Monday night.
But what does it mean when it is said that a player is being held out to “work on his swing?” Aren’t those code words for being benched?
Braves batting coach Greg Walker told O’Brien this about B.J. Upton’s swing, “He’s had three (swing problems) all year,” Walker said. “He’s back of center. Has bad posture, uphill posture. And he’s late getting his heel down. And we felt like all along that he’s been overloading, and he’s been stuck back of center.”
That doesn’t sound like a fender bender in a suburban shopping center, it sounds like a twelve car pile-up on an expressway.
If a batter’s swing has been messed up all year, can it be fixed in a day or two? A week? Several weeks? If it isn’t fixed, how can the results get any better?
With Jordan Schafer hitting well against righties, Reed Johnson hitting well against lefties, and Evan Gattis hitting well against everybody, can the Braves afford to put B.J. Upton in the line-up until he regains his mechanics?
The Braves have been very patient with B.J. Upton. We’re nearly a third of the way through the season and Upton is hitting a paltry .148, with only 4 homers and 8 RBIs, with 60 strikeouts in 155 at bats. B.J. Upton is the worst in the majors with runners in scoring position (2 for 30).
As an aside, B.J.’s brother Justin didn’t start Tuesday against the Blue Jays, either. That is only the third time that Justin didn’t start all season and two of them were games that B.J. sat out. A show of brother solidarity, perhaps?