Upton better, heading for rehab assignment

Upton better, heading for rehab assignment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Center fielder B.J. Upton, who will open the season on the disabled list because of soreness in his back, hopes to return to the Rays' lineup some time during their April 10-19 road trip to Detroit, Boston and Toronto.

However, before that happens Upton, who has only played part of one Minor League spring game since he was injured in a March 14 collision with Desmond Jennings, will have to go on a Minor League rehab assignment to get some at-bats.

"I know he's feeling better," manager Joe Maddon cautioned. "But there's no sense really going crazy right now. Once he's ready, he'll need to go somewhere to play to get some at-bats."

Maddon said Upton will likely need 20-25 at-bats before he is ready to rejoin the lineup. That means Upton will have to spend about a week in the Minors.

"And he may not be ready to play every day down there at first," Maddon admitted. "It's not just about at-bats. You've got arm, legs, running, starting and stopping on the basepaths."