Third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder B.J. Upton had to be separated in the Rays’ dugout Sunday after Longoria got in Upton’s face for failing to hustle after a ball that was hit to the Tropicana Field wall in the fifth inning.
The would-be double turned into a triple for D’Backs first baseman Rusty Ryal and was followed by a Gerrardo Parra two-run homer.
Upton was clearly at fault, but presumably had a problem with Longoria calling him out in front of the rest of the team, including manager Joe Maddon.
The Rays have been in a bit of a funk lately and have dropped five of their last seven games to National League clubs. Sunday’s incident in the dugout looked ugly, but can probably be chalked up as a heat-of-the-battle type moment, borne out of the frustration of losing to perfectly beatable teams.
In fact, Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday evening that the issue is “buried.”
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.