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Outfielders working on communication

Rays working on outfield communication

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MIAMI -- Three times in the past three weeks, B.J. Upton and Gabe Gross have had communication problems, resulting in dropped balls in the gap between right and center field.

"Yeah, it can't keep happening," said Upton, the Rays center fielder. "It's kind of tough -- one day you've got Gabe out there [in right] and one day you've got [Eric] Hinske out there. They're a little bit different players out there. I think it's just a matter of me getting used to the both of them."

On Wednesday night, Matt Treanor hit a ball to the gap prompting the "I got it, you take it" scenario and resulting in Upton dropping the ball for an error.

"We're talking about it," said Rays manager Joe Maddon of the glaring communication problem. "Primarily, we just have to make sure B.J. understands it's his ball first, that's all. And it is."

Maddon went into a basic fielding explanation that the outfielders always make the call on balls between infielders and outfielders and when the ball goes to a gap, it's the center fielder's call.

"And, of course, with [Upton's] range he can take almost anything," Maddon said. "So we just have to continue to promote that. He'll get to the point where that's not going to happen anymore, and he will.

"It is frustrating and it's got to go away. But primarily when you've got a guy like him who has that kind of significant range he's got to understand he just has to go for it and the border guys pretty much just have to acquiesce to it."

Left fielder Carl Crawford said communication is one of the harder aspects of playing the outfield.

"Especially when you've got range like B.J. does," Crawford said. "You've got to adjust to that, because he can cover so much. And when you're not used to that, you can easily have a miscommunication, because you can see what happens. I've learned because I have a feel for it, so you don't see it happen too much between me and him. Seems like him and Gross, they're still feeling it out."

Crawford pointed out the fact Upton hasn't even played the position a year yet, and Maddon understands that point as well.

"That's why I'm not overtly frustrated by it," Maddon said. "He is still learning. We've seen all the wonderful things he's done; there are a couple of things he's messed up. And as he continues to grow in that position, those mistakes are going to go away."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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