J. Upton blocks out trade noise with loud bat
NEW YORK -- Justin Upton doesn't love coming to the ballpark this time of year, but he does love playing. When he's standing in the batter's box, he isn't asked about where he is or where he ought to be, who wants him and who doesn't, or how much money he's set to make in the offseason.
In the box there's just the noise Upton makes with his bat, like the sound of his solo homer in the third inning and of his RBI single in the sixth as it shot through the infield. Both were integral in San Diego's 7-3 win over the Mets on Wednesday, during which Upton drove in three runs amid the types of trade rumors that have followed him his entire career.
Interim manager Pat Murphy even joked that he removed Upton in the eighth inning to "give you [reporters] something to think about," although it was simply to rest his player with the score in the Padres' favor.
"We're out there trying to win a ballgame," said Upton, who hit his 17th homer and recorded RBI No. 53. "We jumped out early. These games are fun."
Upton remains at the epicenter of the swirling storm of trade speculation that, at least for a night, appeared to drift away from the Padres and across the field. It was the Mets swamped in rumors on Wednesday in what became a bizarre situation involving New York shortstop Wilmer Flores and rumors of Milwaukee center fielder Carlos Gomez.
For much of the past week or so, such speculation (albeit on a smaller, less emotional scale) surrounded Padres starter Tyson Ross as well. Ross was spotted an early five-run lead on Wednesday and earned his seventh win by fighting through control and physical issues in what very well could have been a showcase outing.
The National League leader in walks allowed four but held New York to two hits and one run over five innings. He struck out five before leaving with a stiff right quad, an injury sustained in the fourth inning when he was struck by a Kirk Nieuwenhuis line drive.
The injury is not considered serious, nor is it expected to affect Ross' availability for his next start, for whichever team he's playing.
"He could have kept going if we were in dire need," Murphy said. "But we had a lead, and we felt comfortable."
Ross has been traded once before, from Oakland to San Diego in 2012. Upton has been traded twice. Both understand the whirlwind the non-waiver Trade Deadline can be, when play on the field almost feels secondary. It's a strange place to be for a team that's won four of five and could be hitting its stride.
As Ross put it: "It's an interesting time."
"I can't predict the future," Upton said, adding, "I mean, if I'm going to get any hits tomorrow."