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Surgery possible for Upton
By EDUARDO A. ENCINO and MARC TOPKIN
Published September 23, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Rays third baseman B.J. Upton might have surgery shortly after the end of the season to limit future problems with his left shoulder.
Upton missed three games this season after straining the shoulder as he swung at a pitch Aug. 17, then went to the ground in obvious pain. He has had similar problems in the minor leagues and said he usually missed several games then, too.
The surgery could be a way to prevent it from happening more frequently or causing him to miss more time.
"I'm sure they want me to do something," Upton said. "We'll see in the next couple days. We should be hearing something pretty soon."
Upton was not sure the exact details of what the procedure would involve, but he said he has been told that if he has it done he will be fully recovered well before the start of spring training.
"I guess we'll see at the end of the year what they've got in store for me," he said.
One of the Rays' main offseason issues is deciding where Upton plays next year - whether he stays at third base, moves back to shortstop, or is shifted to the outfield.
MEETING UP: Manager Joe Maddon held a 31-minute team meeting before batting practice to give, in his words, his end-of-season "State of the Rays Address."
Maddon said he highlighed the positives from this year and outlined how he wanted to address the offseason and next spring.
"Overall, I wanted to pound home a lot of philosophical points in regards to how we conduct ourselves, where we're going from here and how we're going to get there and what it's going to take," Maddon said. "Overall, I think they got a better sense of what the offseason was going to be like and in spring training."
Maddon said he wanted to launch a "propaganda campaign" in the offseason, keeping in touch with players with constant mailings.
"I just want them to know we're in touch," Maddon said. "I want them to read different items we're going to send out and keep them focused in certain areas."
SWING OF THINGS: Before Friday's game, the Rays recognized their organizational players of the year. Among them was shortstop Reid Brignac, who was awarded the organization's minor-league player of the year award.
Playing at Class A Visalia and Double-A Montgomery, he batted .321 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs. He entered the season as a .284 hitter in 623 minor-league at-bats.
"This year, it was mainly cutting down on strikeouts and make contact," Brignac said. "I really tried to hit as many barrel balls as I could and see how I felt. I hit the ball the other way really well and that helped my average."
Also, Montgomery pitcher Andy Sonnanstine (15-8, 2.67 ERA) was awarded the Rays minor-league pitcher of the year award.
MISCELLANY: Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang earned his 18th win of the season, tying Johan Santana for most in the majors. ... Infielder Jorge Cantu was a late scratch from the lineup with a fever. "The way he looked, he might still be down (today)," Maddon said. ... Tomas Perez is batting .355 against the Yankees (11-for-31). ... Pitcher Shawn Camp appeared in his team-high 73rd game, passing Roberto Hernandez's club season record in 1999. ... Ty Wigginton said he was fine after getting hit by a pitch in the ninth inning by Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. ... Maddon, concerned with James Shields' inning total, said Friday was likely the 24-year-old's final start of the season. "If this is my last start, I feel it's a good game to end on," said Shields, who pitched 186 innings this season between the Rays and Triple-A Durham. ... Reliever Edwin Jackson, who was hit in a head with a live drive, threw for the third straight day but did not pitch Friday. ... Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal and Spanish TV sensation Niurka Marcos will sign autographs before the game tonight as part of Hispanic Heritage Night. Also, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's "Baseball! Beisbol!" exhibit will be in Centerfield Street throughout the final home series.