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Arizona sends Upton to Braves in 7-player deal
“The expectations were through the roof on him,” Towers said. “When the team struggled, it seemed like it was always because of Justin. That’s hard. We’re human beings. It’s hard to take when you’re a young individual trying to establish yourself.”
Now, Towers said, Upton has “an opportunity to go to a different place to where he’s going to fit in with some star players over there, where he’s just kind of a piece of the puzzle versus kind of the centerpiece and the big piece of the puzzle.
“I think some pressure will be off of him.”
“I said, `You must be ecstatic to be able to play with your brother.’ I could certainly understand that. It’s got to be a great thrill for him.”
“I had some things that happened with my manager Sparky Anderson over the years where maybe we butted heads a little bit and I didn’t agree with him,” Gibson said, “but when it was all said and done it all made sense and it was for me to become a better person and a better ballplayer. I would say similar things have happened with me and Justin throughout our association. I know he respects me and I respect him.”
Prado, who joins fellow Venezuelan Miguel Montero in Arizona, made the All-Star team in 2010 as a second baseman and played mostly in left field last season. Prado was projected to move to third base for the Braves this season to replace the retired Chipper Jones.
Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, has played five full major league seasons. Last season, he hit .280 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs and a career-high 107 runs.
In 2011, while helping Arizona win the NL West, Upton hit .289 with career-best totals of 31 home runs and 88 RBIs and finished fourth in NL MVP voting. Overall, he’s a career .278 hitter with 108 home runs, 739 hits, 147 doubles and 80 stolen bases.
Upton said he hopes to become a more consistent player in Atlanta.
“I’ve had a couple good years where I put up good numbers and my goal all along has been to put those years up consistently,” he said. “I think now I’m in a position with Atlanta … we can really feed off each other throughout that lineup to try to get everybody to that consistent production rate.”
Delgado, a 23-year-old right-hander, had been expected to challenge for a spot in the Braves rotation. His acquisition bolsters the young pitching depth in Arizona depleted by the trade of Trevor Bauer. Delgado was 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA in 18 appearances, 17 as a starter, for the Braves. Rated Atlanta’s No. 3 prospect by Baseball America the past two years, he was 4-3 with a 4.06 ERA with Triple-A Gwinnett last season.
The trade leaves Arizona with three veteran outfielders _ Ross, Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra _ along with two youngsters the team feels are ready for the majors _ Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock. Towers projects Eaton as a center fielder and a prototypical leadoff hitter.
By Donald Lambro
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