Here is an odd twist to the new season. BJ Upton will no longer be BJ Upton. The former Rays centerfielder will now go by his real name, Melvin.

Upton, who had a rough go with the Rays, has had an even rougher go since signing a 5-year $75.3 million free agent contract with the Braves.

With the Rays, Upton was painfully inconsistent but at least we could count on some speed and gold glove-caliber defense (most of the time). In two seasons with the Braves, Upton has hit .198, averaged 16 stolen bases, and played mediocre defense at best.

So maybe Upton is just looking for a fresh start.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • The Rays’ new in-game reporter is Emily Austen. She is replacing Kelly Nash who never seemed comfortable in the role. [SunSportsRays]
  • Today is the first day of workouts. Alex Colome and Ronald Belisario are expected to be absent because of visa issues. [TampaBay.com]
  • Juan Francisco has an April 5 opt-out in his minor league contract with the Rays. If he is not on the team by then, he can become a free agent. If he does make the team, he will be paid $2 million for the 2015 season. [TampaBay.com]
  • Here is how much every team has spent on player salaries since their last playoff appearance. The Blue Jays top the list at $1.4 billion. [BI Sports]
  • Bu I thought the NBA was going to pass MLB in popularity? The NBA still has just a fraction of the popularity it had during the Michael Jordan era. [BI Chart]
  • The Rays discovered some old Manny Ramirez bobbleheads that were supposed to be a giveaway but was scrapped when ManRam was suspended after just 5 games with the Rays, his last 5. So they sold them at FanFest this weekend. [Cut4]

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4 Comments

  1. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    It's truly a shame the way Melvin's career has played out. He's a good guy, since making the Show he has made no poor lifestyle choices (PED's, DUI's, domestic violence, etc.), and was a good community guy here in St Pete.. It's gotta be very frustrating for him to try to figure out where it all went wrong on the field.

    I talked with Allan Dykstra for a few minutes at FanFest and he said the players are kinda confused as to why they were starting camp so late, and weren't getting a ton of direction yet as to what was happening moving forward. He wasn't complaining just answering my question as to how ready for ST he was...

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  2. Pat says:

    I have never clearly understood why, every spring, there are issues with some players arriving late because of visa problems. What does that say about the responsibility level of those individuals? It's not like they don't know where they are expected to be, and when. How many of the fans have high paying jobs who could simply be 'excused' for their inability to show up on time for work?

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  3. Geoff Peterson says:

    Maybe they can keep this spokesmodel from banging the players

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  4. FortMyersDave says:

    Upton did have a minor scrape with the law back in '06 while in Durham:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2487380 but after that he seemed to right the ship off of the field but he simply never got over the hump on the field but did get the huge payday from the ATL that the Rays were wise not to try to match. I googled his name and that story was the one that came up on screen near the top so its obvious that he never had many highlights on the field. The other thing mentioned was about BJ nad Justin being the highest drafted brothers in MLB history.... His brother Justin has decent skills though I bet many AZ fans would say that he never lived up to his #1 overall draft pick status but he has had a better career than his brother who was taken 2nd overall by the D'Rays back in '02. Perhaps "Melvin" can get it together for the Bravos and I think Justin will play well in San Diego but the Padres probably will take some time to gel since they have done more change to their roster in one offseason than many franchises do in 5 years and the expectations are pretty high for the Pads; finishing 3rd behind the Dodgers and Giants will likely be considered a disappointment.....

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