PHOENIX — For Justin Upton, trade talk appears over for this deadline season. For Stephen Drew, it may be just heating up.
“That’s nice to hear,” Upton said when told that Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick commented Thursday that discussions involving him were all but dead.
“He’s a man of his word. I’m sure he wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true. I enjoy playing with these guys. I enjoy playing here. But until July 31 is past, you can’t count your chickens before they hatch. I have to keep my head on what’s going on in this clubhouse and keep moving forward.”
Upton added a punctuation mark with a two-run home run in the third inning, his first since June 27.
Drew has become the D-backs’ most marketable commodity as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaches, and scouts from Detroit and other teams were at Chase Field on Friday to keep an eye on him. Atlanta also could be a candidate since it has a need at shortstop and is near Drew’s home in Hahira, Ga. The Tigers also appear to have an interest in Ryan Roberts as a second baseman.
Drew is aware of the rumors but said he does his best to ignore them.
“Is it a possibility? Yeah. Who knows what’s happening right now? But for now I’m here, and hopefully we get back on track and start hopefully a hot streak,” Drew said.
“It’s out of your control, anyway. I don’t really worry about that, to be honest. Until that time comes, I’m still a Diamondback and I’m going out and play hard every day. I guess I can answer that within the 12 days if it comes up. We’ll see what happens.”
The Chase Field fans serenaded Drew with chants of “Drewwww” when he batted, and he pleased fans (and scouts) with a ringing RBI double to right field in the first inning and a two-run single in the seventh. He also made a nice defensive play in the hole. The D-backs are unlikely to accept his $10 million option for 2013, the reason he is available.
Upton has three years and $38.6 million remaining on his contract, and the way he looks at it, there’s some unfinished business to attend to here despite two playoff appearances in five years.
“I hope I can be here for the duration of my contract and be able to be a part of a championship team. That’s my goal here, is to be part of a Diamondbacks championship team,” he said.
At the same time, Upton understands where all the trade talks comes from, and he understands that things can change.
“It is a business, and if they can make this team better and if I’m the piece that has to go to make this team better, then that’s what they’ll do,” he said.
“I hope not.”
Drew has been encouraged by the recovery of his right ankle after missing 11 ½ months, and he appears at or near full strength. He was hitting .192 entering Friday’s game but said that the numbers do not tell the whole story.
“The outcomes are not there, but my at-bats are good. That’s all you can do. It’s part of the game, but it’s kind of frustrating. At the same time, I’d rather have good at-bats,” Drew said.
“These guys (pitchers) are in midseason form already. I’m trying to get caught up with them. No matter who you are or what it (injury) is, you miss that amount of time like I did, you’re trying to get back in the swing of things as quick as possible.
“That’s tough in itself, but right now I’m pleased with how I have played and how I’ve swung the bat.”
Roberts, who has lost playing time at third base recently and could lose more with the arrival of rookie Ryan Wheeler, did not have much to say about trade rumors. The Tigers are playing Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at second base currently.
“I don’t pay any attention to it,” Roberts said. “I’ll cross that bridge when it happens. As of now, I don’t think about that. I play for this team and just think about coming in every day and getting better and, when I do get a chance, produce and help win a game.”
Upton has maintained a professional attitude during trade talk the last several weeks, manager Kirk Gibson said.
“I think Justin has been outstanding through the whole thing. I don’t think it’s something that he is very distracted by. I think he is really motivated to be better. His production hasn’t been there, but he’s played great for us, he really has. He’s been upbeat. He’s been humorous. He’s been a great teammate. He’s had great energy. He’s running hard. His outfield play … I have no complaints at all.”