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Braves Manager Considering Sending Down Center Fielder B.J. Upton

Atlanta Braves' B.J. Upton throws his helmet on the ground after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo Credit: David Goldman)

By George Henry

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says he has considered asking center fielder B.J. Upton to work out his struggles in a minor league assignment.

Upton, signed to the biggest contract in franchise history at five years, $75.25 million, has a .146 batting average, 109 points below his seven-year career mark with Tampa Bay.

Gonzalez indicated that Upton has enough service time in the majors to refuse an assignment if he disagrees with the move.

“In my own mind, you think about those things, but really I haven’t gotten to that point,” Gonzalez said. “I think there’s some logistics — contractual things and that sort of stuff — that they might not be able to do it that easy.”

Gonzalez has spoken with Upton about his absence from the lineup, but not about an assignment in the minors.

“He understands to a certain point,” Gonzalez said. “Like good players do, they want to play. We’ve had conversations and he’s making the adjustments and we’ll see.”

Upton is hitless in the Braves’ past seven games.

Upton’s lack of playing time has coincided with the consistent power numbers being produced by rookie Evan Gattis, who has been getting starts in left field following catcher Brian McCann’s return May 6 from shoulder surgery.

Gattis leads all rookies with 12 homers, 23 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs despite getting just 137 at-bats.
“Every time you run him in there, he does something, you know?” Gonzalez said.

Regarding Upton’s immediate future and whether the Braves might ask him to accept an assignment in the minors, Gonzalez said the Braves no have certain timetable.

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