Chris Dommermuth, CBS Tampa

Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked when he though injured OF B.J. Upton would be able to return to the team Sunday. Maddon’s answer, the series of April 20-22 against the Twins.

“The big thing is to make sure his legs are well, that he’s not going to get hurt running. And also throwing — when you haven’t run or thrown for a while, those are two big concerns, beyond just the fact that you’re going to get your timing at the plate. So it’s going to take at least that many at-bats or days to come back up here.” -Joe Maddon.

Upton has been out since March 14th with a sore lower back when he collided with Desmond Jennings during a Spring Training game.

“I wanted to be back for opening day, and I think everybody as a whole was  trying to get me ready for opening day, and that may have not necessarily been the thing to do in this situation. So I’m glad we just let it  rest and it’s getting better. That’s all we can ask for right now.” -B.J. Upton

In order to get Upton’s timing right, he’ll start his rehab assignment Monday that should last about 10 days. Head Trainer Ronnie Portfield said he’d like to see Upton receive about 25-30 at-bats before he rejoins the team.

“We’ll kind of do this almost like it’s Spring Training all over again — the beginning part, where you play sporatically every day, where you build up to the number of innings and at-bats,” Maddon said. “That sort of stuff.”

The Rays are on a road-trip from April 10-19th so Upton’s return for the start of their home series on the 20th makes sense. There’s no sense in flying him out for a couple of games to test if he’s ready. It would be smart to let him have a couple more days to rest especially with such a long season ahead, and back injuries being so problematic.

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