Notes: Rays want Upton to move in
Club would like to see center fielder play shallow in outfield
ST. PETERSBURG -- B.J. Upton has been everything the Rays could have hoped for and more while playing center field this season, but the Rays would like to see the athletic Upton play a more shallow center.
Upton has been more comfortable playing deep. However, the grace and ease with which he's tracked down balls over his head had the Rays wanting him to move in closer so he has a chance to get the balls in front of him.
"I eventually moved in," Upton said. "Cuz [outfield coach George Hendrick] said something to me about moving in a little bit. Right now I think they're going to let me pretty much feel my way out there this year. But next year I think they'll want me to maybe move in a little more."
Upton recognizes the positives of moving in, but he said playing closer to the infield feels awkward at times.
"If I move in, some balls are hit over my head," Upton said.
Yankee Stadium has been Upton's biggest challenge to date as the historic ballpark's center field is one of the most intimdating in the Major Leagues.
"It was hard to position myself," Upton said. "The whole game I was looking behind me to see how far it was back there."
Upton was a late scratch from the lineup Saturday night. He still was a little sore after fouling a ball off the front of his left ankle in Friday night's game.
50 bags for C.C.: Carl Crawford is closing in on his fourth 50-steal season. If he accomplishes the task, he will become the 23rd player since 1900 to have four 50-steal seasons. Only two active players have done it -- Juan Pierre and Kenny Lofton. And just six players since 1900 have recorded four 50-steal seasons by age 26. The others are: Rickey Henderson (six), Cesar Cedeno (six), Ty Cobb (five), Tim Raines (five), Eddie Collins (four), and Bert Campaneris (four).
August honorees: The Rays announced their Minor League honors for August. Left-hander Jake McGee was named the Pitcher of the Month. He posted a 3-1 record to go along with a 2.95 ERA in four starts. He struck out 28 over 21 1/3 innings in August as the Double-A Biscuits rallied to win their division.
Outfielder Ryan Royster was named the Player of the Month. The Class A Catfish outfielder belted 14 home runs and drove in 32 runs in the month. He hit .365 with an .827 slugging percentage and .431 on-base percentage. Those 14 home runs included a six-game home run streak from Aug. 5-11. Royster finished the year with 30 home runs, most in the South Atlantic League.
Playoff update: Triple-A Durham swept Toledo (Tigers) 3-0 in the International League semifinals and will host either Richmond (Braves) or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) in the best-of-five Governor's Cup Championship beginning on Tuesday.
Double-A Montgomery (Southern League) is tied 1-1 in its series with Mississippi (Braves) as the series headed to Montgomery on Saturday for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).
Class A Columbus (South Atlantic League) swept August (Giants) 2-0 in the SAL semifinals and will play the Hickory (Pirates)/West Virginia (Brewers) winner in the best-of-five championship series beginning on Monday at a site to be determined.
Up next: The Rays will wrap up their three-game series with the Jays on Sunday afternoon in a 1:40 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander James Shields will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Jesse Litsch.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.