Justin Upton aiming to strengthen shoulder this winter

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Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton played in only four games during the month of September and just one game in October because of soreness in the area of his left shoulder.  He has promised to work on the strength and conditioning of that shoulder this offseason and got a head start this afternoon at Arizona’s Chase Field.

Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports that Upton felt no pain or discomfort while batting in an instructional league game on Thursday, the same game that Brandon Webb appeared in for two innings.  Webb allowed three hits and two runs, again showing poor velocity on his sinking fastball.

Upton, 23, had a massively successful 2009 campaign, batting .300/.366/.532 with 26 home runs, 86 RBI and 20 stolen bases over 526 at-bats.  That all led to some wildly optimistic projections for 2010 and Upton simply didn’t live up to the hype.

He’s still plenty young and immensely talented, and a healthy shoulder should only aid in his ability to get back on track.  He should at 100 percent by the start of spring training in 2011.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.

Wanna feel old? Dusty Baker’s son Darren is graduating from high school

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Remember Darren Baker, the son of Nats manager Dusty Baker? If you do, it’s because you remember him as a three-year-old bat boy for the San Francisco Giants who, during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, was almost run over at home plate only to be saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow. Simple math makes it obvious that the kid is now 18, but it still feels weird that so much time has passed.

Now Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California, so father Dusty will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend the ceremonies and festivities. Baker will rejoin Washington when they begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday. In the meantime, bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties.

Time flies, man.