PHOENIX — Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day Wednesday and said before the game he is still displeased with his benching amid ongoing struggles.
“I’m never happy about not being in the lineup,” Upton said. “I’m still not happy about it. But with the day off today (and) a day off tomorrow, I don’t expect any more the rest of the season. I expect to come out and be in the lineup every day and give my teammates everything I’ve got.”
In his last 28 at-bats, Upton has four hits and one RBI. He is hitting .243 with five home runs and 20 RBI. Upton admits he is struggling right now but does not agree with manager Kirk Gibson’s decisions to give him a few days off.
“I don’t think it’s warranted,” Upton said. “But at the same time, (Gibson) calls the shots. So the only thing I can do is continue to come in here and work hard the way I have and make sure I’m prepared the next time I’m in the lineup.”
Gibson had little to say specifically about the decision to sit Upton for the third time in five days.
“I expressed why I did it previously, and nothing’s changed,” Gibson said. “Hopefully he’ll have a productive day today and be ready to win the game for us if that should be the case. He’s a very important part to our team, we all know that, and we’re just going to try to get him back on track.”
After Tuesday night’s game, Upton called his off day “unproductive.” To that assertion, Gibson declined reaction. The manager did, however, justify his decision to keep his All-Star outfielder out of the lineup as a team move.
“I don’t think anybody could (say) that I’m not trying to help the team,” Gibson said. “It’s not about Justin. It’s about the team.”
Upton had not yet spoken with Gibson when he spoke to reporters before Wednesday’s game. Asked if his relationship with Gibson was strained at all, Upton said he has never had “bad blood” with Gibson and doesn’t feel there is any now.
Gibson said the same.
“I’m comfortable with where we’re at,” Gibson said. “I think he’s frustrated. I have no personal vendettas. I think in the team’s best interests all the time.
“We’re trying to get Justin Upton back on track, we’re trying to get our team back on track. It’s as simple as that. As the manager, sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and I accept that.”
Gibson said the team was to meet in the clubhouse before Wednesday’s series finale with the Rockies. Gibson also opted not to have batting practice before the game.
Upton on Wednesday also addressed his relationship with D-backs managing partner Ken Kendrick and the comments Kendrick made on a local radio station Tuesday. Kendrick said Upton has been an “enigma” and that “it’s time for him to be a consistent performer.” Upton, who said he and Kendrick have texted, agreed with the owner’s assertion.
“I agree 100 percent,” Upton said. “I want to be consistent. The fact that I’m not is frustrating for both of us. To be brutally honest, he’s the one who’s forking out the money for me to be here, and I’m not performing to that level, so he’s got every reason to be frustrated. Me being the player and competitor I am, I’m not happy either, so I think we’re both on the same page.”
Upton also said he appreciated Kendrick’s honesty and expressed readiness to move on from the entire ordeal.
“He said what he meant, he said what he felt in his heart,” Upton said. “He’s always backed this team so we have to move on past that. We’re not going to sit here and linger on things that happened yesterday.”