Upton's Fate Decided

Upton's Fate Decided

The questions started long before the draft. Long before either player was even officially a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks took shortstop Stephen Drew with the 15th pick in the '04 draft, and then shortstop Justin Upton with the #1 overall pick in the '05 draft. Two shortstops, two top prospects, two incredible athletes who could play anywhere. Where would they play? That answer came sooner than later.

    The Diamondbacks may have solved their problem of someday trying to
get highly touted shortstop prospects Stephen Drew and Justin Upton
into their lineup at the same time: They plan to have Upton move to
center field.
    The decision had been discussed internally, and in recent days it
was taken to Upton, his family and his agent, Larry Reynolds, all of
whom decided the switch is for the best.
    "We're dealing with an incredible athlete who has a chance to move
quickly due to his offensive strengths, and in order to keep him on
track, we think this is the best move," said A.J. Hinch, the
Diamondbacks' manager of minor league operations. "We'll start him off
in (Class A) South Bend, just as planned, and let him take off."
    Upton, however, will remain in extended spring training for the time
being to rest a sore left shoulder, which he injured on an awkward
swing in a Cactus League game. He aggravated the shoulder recently in a
minor league camp game and probably won't join the South Bend team for
a week or two.
    The injury isn't serious, but the Diamondbacks want to proceed
cautiously with the No. 1 overall pick from 2005, whom they signed to a
record $6.1 million deal in January.

    --CF Chris Young, still recovering from a broken bone in his right
hand suffered during workouts before spring training, will start the
Triple-A season on the disabled list. Arizona acquired him from the
White Sox in the trade involving RHP Javier Vazquez with the intention
of making Young their future starter in center.
    But with SS Justin Upton switching positions to center, what happens
to Young?
    "Well, it does mirror the situation we were in before (at shortstop
with Upton and Stephen Drew)," said A.J. Hinch, the Diamondbacks'
manager of minor league operations. "But we'll deal with that in due
time. A lot of good things have to happen before then, and if that's
our biggest problem a few years from now, we'll be ecstatic."
    --C Koyie Hill on being designated for assignment and being in a
holding pattern for up to 10 days before his situation is resolved:
"This is the ugly side of baseball, the business side. And it's
probably as much not a reason to play the game as the fun part of
playing it. It's a little boy's game, and we love being little boys out
there. But then you discover the ugly, grown-up side of the game, the
business side, and you view things a heck of a lot different."
    --RHP Orlando Hernandez picked up his White Sox World Series ring
during ceremonies in Chicago on Tuesday -- a scheduled day off for
Arizona -- and he was expected to rejoin the Diamondbacks in Denver in
time to make his first scheduled start for the team Wednesday night.
    --RHP Luis Vizcaino retired all six batters he faced in his Arizona
debut Monday against the Rockies, but his effort was overshadowed in
the team's 3-2 loss in 11 innings.
    "Snyder did a great job with him, mixing it up," manager Bob Melvin
said, referring to catcher Chris Snyder, who replaced starter Johnny
Estrada in the ninth inning. "Luis was shooting some fastballs up,
throwing some fastballs in some unpredictable counts, because everybody
knows he's got a good slider."
    --The Diamondbacks were 1-for-11 with men in scoring position and
stranded 10 runners in Monday's Opening Day loss to the Rockies, a
problem that haunted them all of last season. Manager Bob Melvin,
however, doesn't think that will be a recurring theme in 2006 with a
revamped lineup, saying, "I don't foresee us being like that too
    BY THE NUMBERS: .327 -- LF Luis Gonzalez's career batting average
(in 272 career at-bats) at Coors Field, where the Diamondbacks opened
the regular season.
    .264 -- RF Shawn Green's career batting average (in 216 at-bats) at
Coors Field.

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