Rays give Bartlett leadoff duties for now
Manager Maddon moves struggling Upton to seventh spot
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jason Bartlett will be the Rays' leadoff hitter "for a bit," according to manager Joe Maddon.
B.J. Upton, who has been the Rays' leadoff hitter all season, found himself in the seventh spot for Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox and did not appear too happy with the move.
"Yeah, I'm a little upset," Upton said. "But I guess I brought that on myself."
In addition, Willy Aybar, who homered twice Monday, was the team's designated hitter -- instead of Pat Burrell -- for the second consecutive day.
Maddon has deliberated long and hard on switching Upton out of the leadoff spot.
"I really believe in seeing things through," Maddon said. "So for right now, I'd like to see B.J. get going. I think that J.B. may have a chance to get us going earlier in the game right now. Let's see if that works that way.
"For today, Willy's the DH. Pat may be back out there tomorrow. I wanted Pat to work on some things he has. Willy supplied a lift yesterday, and so did J.B. I really liked the first hitter of the game walk [by Bartlett on Monday] vs. [Zack] Greinke, who never walks anybody. I like that a lot. So we'll see if this gels things a bit in the positive. We'll find out."
Bartlett enters Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox with a .387 on-base percentage, while Upton's is just .318.
Maddon said he wants Upton to "chill out" and he believes that "the time was right" for Upton to make such a move in the hope of getting him right.
"Obviously I haven't been producing up there, so maybe it's time for a change," Upton said.
Upton said he has not been feeling pressure.
"I take the same approach regardless of what spot I'm in," said Upton, who added that he will do whatever he can to get back up to the top of the order. ... It's his team. He can do what he wants to do. I'll help this team any way I can. If he feels like the best way for me to do that is in the seventh spot or wherever that may be, then that's what I'll do."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.