Recently we noted that BJ Upton seemed to have lost some of his bat speed. We wondered if he was still experiencing pain from the shoulder injury he suffered earlier this year during a swing. And then this morning John Romano just casually mentions that Upton has a torn labrum in his shoulder and will need surgery this off-season.
Upton has a torn labrum in his left shoulder. It prevents him from swinging the bat with authority. It caused the shoulder to pop out of its socket in May, and it will require him to have surgery in the offseason.
Huh-wha?!?! How did we not know this? Why does Romano write that third paragraph as if it is just common knowledge? We went back and searched the archives to see if this had been reported earlier. Maybe we missed it…Nothing.
We had also wondered why Upton seemed to take so many fastballs this season despite having such quick wrists. Turns out Upton is afraid of aggravating the injury.
It is a subject Upton talks about reluctantly, and the Rays would prefer to keep it that way. It does no good to acknowledge one of the team’s centerpieces is in constant discomfort. Or that he occasionally lets pitches go by because he’s wary of certain angles when he swings.
When Upton is swinging well, he has one of the quickest bats in baseball. That is why a player as frail as Upton was able to hit 24 home runs last season despite missing a month of the season. This season he has 8.
“If I could swing the way I wanted to, there would be less doubles and more homers,” Upton said. “A lot of my doubles have been off the wall or they one-hop the wall. If I could have really put a full swing into it, I think the story would be a little different.”
I cannot emphasize enough how painful this must be for Upton. I once suffered the same injury. I couldn’t even lift my arm over my head without surgery.
Unfortunately for the Rays, other teams certainly are already aware of this. We are sure they know the pitch-locations that Upton avoids. That he is still able to maintain a solid OBP (.381) is testimony to just how great Upton can be.
Shoulder issue pains Rays’ Upton [St. Pete Times]