Justin Upton was putting together one of the greatest seasons in baseball history for a 21-year-old, batting .301/.374/.541 with 20 homers, 48 total extra-base hits, 66 RBIs, 68 runs, 16 steals, and 45 walks through 103 games before suffering a strained oblique Wednesday. He was placed on the disabled list Thursday and a similar injury cost Upton a month last year, so he may be out until September.
Despite being benched on Opening Day by a manager who was fired, Upton has emerged as one of the game’s brightest young stars by posting a .915 OPS that ranks 11th all time among 21-years-olds behind Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Albert Pujols, Mel Ott, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Mathews, Cesar Cedeno, Joe Jackson, and Hal Trosky. His injury is a speed bump on a Hall of Fame path.
While the Diamondbacks’ hugely disappointing season takes another painful turn here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Jason Bay and J.D. Drew are both banged up and Rocco Baldelli landed on the disabled list Thursday after fouling a ball off his foot, so Boston recalled prospect Josh Reddick and shifted Kevin Youkilis to left field. Youkilis has 17 career starts in the outfield and the move allowed the Red Sox to keep Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez in the lineup while giving Casey Kotchman his first start with the team.
Kotchman responded by homering against the Yankees after going deep just six times in 336 plate appearances with the Braves. Bay may end missing the entire New York series with a strained hamstring, but Drew was able to reach base four times while playing through a groin injury. Reddick won’t have any fantasy value, but Kotchman could have some brief AL-only upside if he gets hot right away.
* After watching J.A. Happ’s brilliant 10-strikeout complete-game shutout against the Rockies, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made it clear Thursday that he’s in no danger of giving his spot in the Phillies’ rotation to Pedro Martinez. Amaro said that Happ “isn’t going anywhere” and “deserves to stay in the rotation” after going 6-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 14 starts, adding that a six-man rotation is possible.
* John Smoltz struggled again Thursday, failing to make it out of the fourth inning versus the Yankees while allowing eight runs on nine hits and four walks. Smoltz is now 2-5 with an ugly 8.32 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox and while a 33/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings suggests that he’s still somewhat effective eight homers and a .343 opponents’ batting average show that he’s hardly fooling anyone yet.
AL Quick Hits: Frank Francisco pitched a scoreless eighth inning Thursday to set up C.J. Wilson for the save … Thanks to nice run support Joba Chamberlain won Thursday despite allowing two homers and a career-high seven walks … Tommy Hunter kept defying the odds Thursday with seven innings of three-run ball while improving to 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA … John Danks gave up seven runs Thursday and has struggled in three straight starts since missing a turn in the rotation with a finger injury … Jed Lowrie left Thursday’s game after straining his forearm on a swing … Adrian Beltre singled in all four at-bats Thursday in his third game back from shoulder surgery … Bruce Chen won Thursday for the first time since 2005, snapping a streak of 13 straight losses … Juan Cruz (shoulder) went on the shelf Thursday after allowing 29 runs in his last 28 innings … Hank Blalock homered Thursday, but is hitting .198 with 24 strikeouts and zero walks since the break.
NL Quick Hits: Guillermo Mota, Joe Torre, and Prince Fielder all avoided being suspended for Tuesday’s bean-ball incident … After going deep in three straight games, Jimmy Rollins missed the cycle by a homer Thursday … Cliff Lee struck out nine over seven innings of one-run ball Thursday, making him 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA for the Phillies … Ryan Zimmerman was 4-for-4 with a homer Thursday and is now just one long ball shy of matching his career-high of 24 from 2007 … Alex Romero went 4-for-7 with a steal and hit a tie-breaking double in the 12th inning Thursday … Chris Coglan turned in his fifth straight multi-hit game Thursday and also swiped his sixth base … As expected, Bobby Parnell will replace Jon Niese (hamstring) in the rotation … Clint Barmes went hitless for a sixth straight game Thursday, making him 8-for-74 (.108) since the All-Star break … Despite winning 63 games last year and being 44-65 this season manager Bud Black’s contract was extended Thursday by the Padres.