Back feeling better, Upton hits in Minors games

Back feeling better, Upton hits in Minors games

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays center fielder B.J. Upton hit against live pitching Tuesday and appears to have his back problem behind him.

Upton, who has been nursing a lower back problem since last week's outfield collision with Desmond Jennings, took batting practice Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, he had two at-bats for Double-A Montgomery, walking and flying out to center field, and one at-bat for Triple-A Durham that saw him ground out to shortstop.

"I felt pretty good about the strides I made today," Upton said. "The biggest thing was seeing pitches. I saw enough pitches and had some good swings."

Upton was slated to have just two at-bats, but his at-bats for Montgomery came against a left-hander, so he asked hitting coach Derek Shelton for one more at-bat so he could go up against a right-hander, which he did for the Durham squad.

"I saw a number of pitches from him, so that was good," Upton said. "I'm moving in the right direction, so hopefully I can get out there [Wednesday]. But if not, no biggie, I like where I'm at right now. As long as we're making strides every day."

Also playing in Minor League games Tuesday while the Rays played the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., were Carlos Pena, Jose Molina, Evan Longoria, Jeff Keppinger and Ben Zobrist.

-- Bill Chastain