BJ Upton Finds His Swing: The Return of the Boss

Caleb CombsContributor IJune 8, 2009

PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 20: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses during Photo Day on February 20, 2009 at the Charlotte County Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Just over two weeks ago Rays fans were calling for the head of one Melvin Emmanuel Upton.

Now, those same critics are running with skinned knees trying to hop back on his bandwagon.

The center fielder known as Bossman Junior, Black Jesus, or just BJ has returned with sword in hand, swinging away.

Upton, who missed all of Spring Training after having offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum from last May, was thrust into the leadoff spot in just the second week of the season.

Rays fans ached over watching him struggle game after game whilst hitting around a .194. Some must have considered holding a crucifixion just for Joe Maddon.

Fortunately for Joe, Tampa's messiah hath cometh.

With Rays starters Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett, Akinori Iwamura, and Pat Burrell all hitting the disabled list at about the same time, Bossman Junior has finally broken out.

Since May 22, Upton has hit .305, raising his current average to .221. On the last homestand for the Rays, Upton hit .450 with a home run, a couple of doubles, and four RBI.

Not bad for a guy who was struggling to hit his stride for over a month and a half.

Along with Upton's discovery of his bat, we have his excellent range that has far extended itself. In the Rays-Yankees game on Saturday, Upton made a spectacular leaping catch in center field to end the game and stop the Yankees from tying it up in the ninth inning.

Seriously, I probably would have to grow another hand to count how many times BJ Upton has saved Rays pitching over the last year. This kid truly is amazing—if not the top, one of the top defensive center fielders in all of baseball today.