Maddon tweaks lineup for series finale
Kapler patrols outfield, Bartlett leads off in place of Upton
ST. PETERSBURG -- A day after one of the season's most frustrating offensive performances, Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to shuffle the batting order for Monday's game against the Royals.
Leadoff hitter and center fielder B.J. Upton was out of the lineup and replaced in the outfield by Gabe Kapler. Shortstop Jason Bartlett took Upton's spot at the top of the order. Willy Aybar was slotted as designated hitter, replacing regular DH Pat Burrell.
Despite the changes, Maddon said the moves were nothing permanent and there were no injuries to report.
"We wanted to give B.J. a day off," Maddon said. "Just a 12 o' clock opportunity to do something different."
Upton was replaced in the eighth inning of Sunday's game after going 1-for-4 with one strikeout. After being named American League Player of the Month in June, his July numbers tailed off: .233 average, no home runs, and five RBIs in 103 at-bats.
Meanwhile, Bartlett, who batted ninth on Sunday, was hitting .331 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs on the season entering Monday. He's second in the AL in hitting with runners in scoring position.
Maddon said the replacement of Upton on Sunday was purely to allow the possibility of pinch-hitter Aybar getting another at-bat, sort of an "American League double-switch."
"I wanted Willy to be able to hit again," Maddon said. "I thought if we were to win that game, that spot was going to come up in a crucial moment. So I didn't want that up to Michel [Hernandez], so I chose just to take B.J. out at that point. That's all it was."
The Rays, who are currently fifth in the Majors in runs scored, had a bitterly frustrating offensive day at the plate Sunday, even while pitcher James Shields carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. The game was scoreless until a two-run eighth by Kansas City broke it open, and the Rays ended up losing, 4-1.
"I know their pitcher pitched well, but nevertheless, we have to hit better," Maddon said after the game.
Zach Schonbrun is an assocaite reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.