After calling Chase Field home for his first six major league seasons, Justin Upton is set to play his first game there as a visitor Monday night.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Diamondbacks in 2005, Upton drove in 67 runs in 150 games in 2012 while slugging .430 - his lowest since his rookie season. After reports swirled for much of the year that he was being shopped to other teams, he was finally dealt to Atlanta in January in exchange for Martin Prado and prospects.
Upton’s first season with the Braves has been a vast improvement from his tumultuous final campaign with Arizona, as he’s slugging .608 with a major-league leading 12 homers despite not hitting one since April 27.
“Being traded is a part of the game and you take it in stride,” Upton told the Diamondbacks’ official website. “I’ve turned the page. I’m part of a new organization and it’s still the same game on the field. I’m looking to the future and I’m enjoying things.”
Atlanta (21-16) tallied four runs and 14 hits while dropping the last three of a four-game series at San Francisco.
“We haven’t been real fun to watch right now,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who rejoined the Braves Sunday after missing two days to attend his daughter’s college graduation.
The Diamondbacks (21-17) have lost two in a row and have posted just 11 runs over the last five games while going 2 for 32 with runners in scoring position, though they still managed to win the first three in that stretch.
Maybe a recharged Paul Goldschmidt will help Arizona’s offense get on track as he didn’t start Sunday for the first time this season. Goldschmidt, who leads the Diamondbacks with nine homers and 30 RBIs, did strike out as a pinch-hitter, while Eric Hinske was 0 for 3 filling in at first base.
“He’s got to be a little tired, he was ready for a day off, definitely,” manager Kirk Gibson told the team’s official website. “He’s pretty important to our team. It’s hard to do it, but at the same time you have to at some point.”
Two left-handers will be on the mound with Mike Minor (4-2, 2.96 ERA) starting for Atlanta against Arizona’s Wade Miley (3-1, 2.93 ERA). Both are coming off good showings, with Minor holding the Reds to one run and four hits over seven innings Wednesday while Miley gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings as the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 3-2.
Unlike Upton, Prado’s first season with his new team has been a struggle. He’s batting a career-worst .230 and was hitless Sunday for the fourth time in six contests.
Freddie Freeman is 20 for 45 (.444) with three homers, six doubles and 13 RBIs in 12 games against the Diamondbacks, with one of those home runs coming in three at-bats against Miley.
The Braves have won eight of the last 10 meetings, including three of four in Arizona last season.