Upton back in D-backs' lineup against A's

Upton back in D-backs' lineup against A's

Published Jun. 8, 2012 4:55 p.m. ET

PHOENIX — Following a two-game absence, Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton returned to the starting lineup Friday, hitting in his usual third spot in the batting order for the team's game against the Athletics.

Earlier in the week, Upton expressed displeasure at being benched amid a 4-for-28 slump. He was held out of the lineup three times in five days. After finishing fourth in MVP voting last season, Upton has struggled to produce consistently this year and is batting .243 with five homers and 20 RBIs.

"I think I was pretty clear why I did it," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're trying to
help him, get him relaxed and get him back on track. He looks good to
me today, looks fresh, recharged."

Upton's absence from the lineup also came with controversy when D-backs managing partner Ken Kendrick in a radio interview called the 24-year-old Upton an "enigma" and said it was time for the 2011 All-Star to become a consistent performer. Upton and Kendrick have since exchanged text messages, and Upton said there is no rift with Kendrick or Gibson.