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Muscle Sport Magazine

Evan Longoria 100% Correct in Calling Out Lazy Teammate B.J. Upton

It’s about time that a loafing baseball player got what was coming to him, and it means even more when a teammate is the one giving him shit. Everyone keeps attributing the frustration from their recent slump as the cause of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria-B.J. Upton dugout spat, but the young third baseman showed great leadership qualities by taking the lazy B.J. Upton to task.

In case you missed it, the incident occurred on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Florida in the home dugout following the top of the fifth inning in a game against the Arizona. Diamondbacks firstbaseman Rusty Ryal hit a shot to the gap in left center that Upton took his sweet-ass time getting to. Sure, he was playing Ryal to hit it the other way, but that’s still no excuse for not hustling to the ball, which went all the way to the wall before being retrieved. For Ryal – not to be mistaken for Lou Brock anytime soon – this was his first triple of the season. There was no way that this should have been anything more than a two-base hit.

When he returned to the dugout, Upton was approached by Longoria, who let his teammate know what he felt. Upton was the one that tried to take it to the next level with violent hand gestures and getting louder, even as Longoria stepped away. The outfielder had to be physically restrained by Manny Aybar, while two other Rays crowded around him in case he broke free.

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Mild mannered manager Joe Maddon, who should have been right in there before Longoria had to do it, predictably downplayed the incident. He made a feeble excuse for Upton, saying that it was more an issue of positioning than lack of hustle, but did not chastise Longoria for doing what should have been his dirty work.

“The buck stops with me, but I always encourage members of the group to police themselves,” he said after the game.

Maddon has had numerous opportunities to straighten out Upton, who has made a habit of not running out ground balls and pop outs. As a matter of fact, Maddon wanted to send Upton to the minors for such an infraction, but ultimately decided against it.

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Longoria had every right to question Upton’s commitment and he should be ashamed that the subject keeps rearing its ugly head. In 2008, he was benched on two separate occasions by Maddon for not running. But then later that same season, Upton hotdogged it on a deep shot that he thought was going out. It hit the wall and he was thrown out at second base. Instead of putting his foot down, Maddon played like Upton’s agent and called it a “mental mistake.” Sure, one that should have bought him a seat on the bench for more than a day.

Longoria showed more emotion and leadership in a few seconds with Upton than Maddon has in four and a half seasons as bench boss in Tampa. Take the hint, Joe.

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