The dugout confrontation deserved the attention, but there's a bigger problem here for the Rays than Upton's occasional lack of hustle: Upton is not a very good hitter right now. His swing is so long and late that he is getting overmatched by right-handed power pitchers. Pitchers with power sliders or 90-plus mph fastballs at the belt and above own him. Upton is hitting .203 against right-handers. Against power pitchers, he is hitting .169 with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats.
Upton turns 26 next month and has played in almost 600 major league games, and yet he is such a mess mechanically that he has regressed as a hitter. He is chasing more pitches out of the zone and swinging and missing more than ever before in his career.
Upton is a terrific baserunner and defensive player and still is young enough to blossom into a big time star. But right now, other than hype based on potential, he essentially has been
The grind of the season is catching up to young pitchers:
• The Yankees gave
• The Reds gave two extra days to rookie
• The Rangers gave two extra days to
• The Diamondbacks gave two extra days to
Clubs do a much better job than ever monitoring the health and workloads of young pitchers, but it still creates issues, especially for contending clubs, when it comes to balancing development with the need to win. Many teams will use the All-Star break as a built-in "vacation" for a young starter by skipping a start before and/or after the break, which is how Detroit got
Among the key young pitchers to watch when it comes to second-half workload will be Hughes, Leake,
Rodriguez, the full-time interim manager, has little chance of sticking around, essentially because Loria has overrated his own team, which doesn't have the defense or pitching depth to be the playoff team he thinks it should be.
The reason Loria fired Gonzalez was to take a shot at hiring