Upton showing off increased arm strength

Upton showing off increased arm strength

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the top of the sixth inning of Friday's 5-0 win over Baltimore, Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton delivered a perfect throw to second base to throw out a tagging Steve Tolleson, likely saving a run from scoring.

With the bases loaded, J.J. Hardy hit a fly ball to deep center field and as the ball approached him, Upton set his feet before gunning a throw to shortstop Elliot Johnson, who tagged out Tolleson. The out came a split second before Bill Hall, who was tagging from third, crossed the plate, keeping the score 5-0.

"To right himself and throw it that hard with that kind of velocity and that accurately, and to be attached to the backside of that play, that's hard to do," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the play. "There's not many guys that have the arm strength to do that."

Upton has six assists from the outfield this season in 37 games, the same amount he had in 151 games a year ago. In 2010 he had just three in 154 games, and he also had six in 2009. Maddon said he's taken notice of what appears to be increased arm strength.

"It looks like his arm stroke is better ... his release is better, the ball is coming off hotter," Maddon said. "If anything, it looked like he may have been underneath some throws in the past. He's definitely getting on top and the ball is jumping out."