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Rays' Upton not in lineup against Red Sox

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:37 AM
BOSTON -

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton is not in the lineup tonight against the Red Sox, but before you go thinking the obvious, stop.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Upton is not being benched for not hustling after a ball hit into the gap during Sunday's loss to the Diamondbacks that led to a dugout altercation between Upton and third baseman Evan Longoria.

"I just didn't want to start him tonight, based on a lot of different items I'm looking at," Maddon said before the game. "Oftentimes, I don't start somebody a day after a day off. Sometimes that's part of the reason. I just chose not to start him tonight. But he's definitely available for later in the game."

When asked to clarify that Upton was not being benched, Maddon said, "Nope. Not at all."

Maddon said he talked with Upton after Sunday's incident and again Monday before the team charter to Boston.

"I had some wonderful conversations with him, very frank," Maddon said. "I just wanted to share with him some of my past experiences as a young man and as a manager today. He's a wonderful young man. That's one of the things I don't want to get lost in all of this.

"B.J. is really, really one of my favorite people. This guy is a good guy. Sometimes it's interpreted the other way. Not a malicious bone in his body. A wonderful young man. We talked things through and everything's fine. ... It was one of those moments. We talked about it. I think we fixed it, and now it's time to move on."

Upton said the frank conversations helped he and Maddon clear the air.

"That's it," he said. "Obviously I can't get into detail, but just clear the air. Both came to an agreement, and we'll move on."

Naturally, Maddon said Sunday's incident and the national headlines it generated can be a positive.

"From my perspective it's important to challenge something like this in the right way," Maddon said. "You're always going to arrive at different moments. I don't care if it's your personal life, your professional life. Many times it will be a negative moment, but in some way you have to challenge that negative into something positive, and that's what we're attempting to do right now.

"I'm taking this, I'm looking at this situation, it's very publicized as it normally is, and we're going to make it into something positive. Tonight's the first night. Again, sometimes the positive turnaround, something good that's going to happen, is definitely disguise in weird clothing at times."

Sitting Upton was made easier when left fielder Carl Crawford told Maddon he could play.

Crawford put his strained left shoulder to the test by throwing and swinging once he arrived at the ballpark.

"I can probably do everything I normally do," Crawford said. "I think this is the only way I can really test it, by playing live games. I'm going to test it out today and hope I don't have any setbacks."

With Upton not in the starting lineup, Maddon has Ben Zobrist in center and Sean Rodriguez in right.

Maddon chose to play Zobrist in center because he has more experience there and because he's more familiar with the Red Sox hitters than Rodriguez.

When asked if Upton will return to the lineup Wednesday, Maddon said, "Possibly."

When asked again to clarify this is not a benching, Maddon said, "Purely because I wanted to give him the night off. All things considered, I wanted to give him the night off."

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