MLB

Upton on the bench again for Arizona

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PHOENIX (AP)

Struggling Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton was held out of the lineup for the second straight night and the third time in five games.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said before Tuesday's game against Colorado that he hoped time off would help the star outfielder snap out of his funk and again had him on the bench against Colorado on Wednesday night.

''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 of our team, we all know that, and we're going to try to get him back on track.''

Fourth in the NL MVP voting last year, Upton has struggled for a good chunk of this season. Since a nine-game hitting streak in late May, Upton has gone 4-for-28 the past seven games, including 0-for-4 against Colorado on Monday night.

Upton was clearly frustrated after being held out of Tuesday night's win over the Rockies, calling the day off ''unproductive.''

''I sat around and really didn't do much, and I'm still (angry) about the way I'm playing and I'm not playing, so I don't know if it was productive,'' he said after the 10-0 win over Colorado.

Gibson said he understood Upton's frustration, but said that he didn't believe there was any animosity between him and one of his best players.

''I'm comfortable where we're at; I think he's frustrated,'' Gibson said. ''I have no personal vendettas. Everything is in the best interest of the team. It's not like I'm in a dark room excluding everyone else in the organization. I'm not some ruler or dictator with a gavel on my desk saying, `We're doing this because I said so.' We think things out. We're trying to get Justin Upton back on track, we're trying to get our team back on track.''

It hasn't helped Upton that Gerardo Parra has been playing well.

An NL Gold Glove winner last season, Parra had a four-hit night that included a solo homer against the Rockies on Tuesday night and has raised his average to .276.

''I want to be on the field every single day, but at the same time, none of you all are blind,'' Upton said. ''Parra deserves to play. Whatever they need to do, they do.''

It hasn't been just Upton, though.

The Diamondbacks have struggled in defense of their first NL West title since 2007, following a strong start to the season with nearly two months of mediocrity. Arizona has started to play better lately, winning three of four after beating Colorado Tuesday night, but was still nine games behind the Dodgers in the division.

The Diamondbacks were in a similar situation last season before making a run to the playoffs and Gibson held a team meeting before Wednesday's game to keep the team headed in the right direction.

''My goal is stay focused and stay on task, not lose our composure, our cause and who we are,'' Gibson said. ''We just need to sit down and reaffirm that fact.''

Tagged: Diamondbacks, Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra

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