|Justin Upton is off to a slow start, but “there’s a long season to go,’’ he said. (Matt York/Associated Press)|
Upton enjoyed an upturn during his visit
There are subtle ways to end a power drought. String a few doubles together. Turn a one-bagger into two. And then there’s the way Justin Upton did it Wednesday night.
As the ball streaked toward the AAA sign atop the Green Monster, the 22-year-old Upton casually tossed his bat aside and began his trot around the bases. There was no doubt about this one.
“It’s nice, man,’’ Upton said yesterday. “Obviously, I haven’t been swinging the bat real well, and being able to connect with one is good.’’
Coming into the series, which concluded with the Sox’ 8-5, sweep-clinching win last night, Upton had only two extra-base hits in June. The 2009 All-Star was given a day off Sunday after striking out 11 times in the previous four games.
“It’s just a matter of not seeing the ball well,’’ Upton said. “My timing on my swing was a little bit off, and it showed. We’ve seen some pretty decent pitching in the last few weeks, and that little bit of imperfection has really shown up.’’
Upton’s 2010 campaign has seen a drop from what he put up last season. His 2009 season was the best of his young career, and the 30 home runs and .898 OPS were the type of numbers the Diamondbacks expected when they drafted the Norfolk, Va., native No. 1 overall in 2005.
But while Upton acknowledges that his play so far has been disappointing, he says it’s a little early to be writing this season off as a letdown.
“It’s a long season,’’ Upton said. “I never give up on myself. There’s a long season to go, and hopefully I’ll just keep climbing that mountain.’’
The climb seems to have started. It took only two games at Fenway Park for Upton to equal his extra-base hit total for the month. He went 0 for 3 last night, dropping his average to .244, but scored after both of his walks. He says his comfort level at the plate isn’t where he wants it to be, but in the last couple games, he has started to feel more like himself.
“It’s getting there,’’ Upton said. “I’m not seeing it as well as I would like to, but I’m putting myself in a position to hit, and that’s helped out.
“It’s just timing. I’m not trying to swing better on the road. It’s just happened that way so far. I’m trying to be as consistent as possible with mechanics and everything else.’’
Upton said that while his upturn in this series has been reassuring, his belief in his swing hadn’t wavered. Maintaining a positive mind-set during the low points is what will eventually lead back to the peaks.
“It’s obviously a confidence booster, but if you don’t have confidence even when you’re struggling, it’s a tough thing to get through,’’ Upton said. “I’ve tried to keep my confidence up going to the plate, even when I’m not getting it done. And when you don’t, you’ve just got to look forward to the next at-bat. That’s kind of helped me get through the tougher streak here.’’