The lead was 7-0, a no-hitter was in the air and as Justin Upton, the Braves’ most productive hitter began to prep for his ninth-inning at-bat Monday afternoon, manager Fredi Gonzalez told him to step down. Jose Constanza, just off the bus from Triple-A Gwinnett was going pinch-hit for him, facing Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Upton was 4-for-12 lifetime against Papelbon.
“No, I wasn’t expecting it,” Upton said. “But (Gonzalez) came to me, obviously we’ve got some guys up here who haven’t had at-bats, so he said we really want to get Constanza an at-bat. That could be huge for us in the next couple of days if he has to get an at-bat (in big situation).”
Gonzalez was even asked afterwards is Upton had been taken out due to injury.
“You know, the score what it was, get Constanza in there,” the manager said. “Down the road, he maybe a guy who can pinch-hit for us and get him an at-bat. Also, if we would have extended that inning there, (Ramiro) Pena was on deck for (Andrelton) Simmons, try to get him an at-bat. At far as health-wise, he was fine.”
Another interesting moment in an interesting day.
“Skip thought it was a good time to take me off the field,” Upton said. “So be it.”