03/15/09 10:02 AM ET
Upton progresses to live pitching
Center fielder looking to build, not rush, healthy return
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Sunday, the Rays center fielder walked over to the Minor League workouts to look at some live pitching.
"I think for the most part just to start seeing some pitches, live, coming out of the hand," Upton said. "With the schedule we've got, obviously, we're playing games and the Minor Leagues start games tomorrow. So today was actually the last day I could get out and track without being in a game."
Seeing live pitching afforded him the opportunity to start "seeing the spins in the rotation on different pitches and things like that." His intention wasn't to stand in the box and swing away.
"I took a couple of swings at balls I felt I could get to, but other than that, just tracking [pitches]," Upton said.
Upton chuckled when asked if he had any notable hits when he did swing the bat.
"No, I didn't get a ball out of the infield," Upton said.
Looking ahead, Upton will be off the next two days.
"We'll just see where we're at after that and see how [the shoulder is] feeling," Upton said. "They're going to try and work me in as much as they can, maybe some hitting and some defense. Still have to get with the training staff and see exactly what they want to do, but we're going to work with that after the off day."
Upton said he has felt no pressure to accelerate his rehab program because of Fernando Perez's recent injury. Perez had been earmarked to start the season in center field while Upton continued to rehab during the team's first road trip to Boston and Baltimore. But Perez dislocated his left wrist and will be out three months.
"We've got some guys over here who can fill in," Upton said. "I think the biggest thing is having me for more of the season than less of it. If I missed the first couple of weeks, so be it. If I can be there in September and October -- that's what we're looking for."
Upton estimated he might play in a game a week or two before the team breaks camp.
"But still, like I said, I've still got a lot of feeling out to do," Upton said. "We'll deal with that when we get there."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.