- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - B.J. Upton was suffering through the most dreadful season of his career and little brother Justin was in the same Atlanta clubhouse, a perfect shoulder to lean on as he navigated through the unfathomable time.

But he didn’t seek comfort from him.

In fact, he didn’t reach out to anyone for help.

“It was difficult, but I’m kind of a loner,” Upton told The Associated Press, his gaze fixed skyward as he sat in the dugout on a recent dreary day in spring camp. “I handle things my own way. That’s just kind of the way it is.”

Justin is three years B.J.’s junior, shorter and stockier, but in his face and the timbre of his voice, the resemblance is unmistakable.

The younger Upton shook his head when asked if it surprised him that B.J. didn’t ask for his support when he dealt with hitting just .184 and being benched in his first year with the Braves. The season-long slump came after he signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract.

“Nobody’s going to help you fix yourself,” Justin said. “People take that a little too far, I think. Until something clicks with you in your mind things won’t go the right direction. You have to fix yourself before anyone else can.”

OK, but surely B.J. talked to his parents, with whom he’s very close, about his problems.


Not his mother and not even his father, Manny “Bossman” Upton, his namesake and the reason the man born Melvin Emanuel is known as “Bossman Junior” or simply B.J.

“What could anyone really say to me? None of them had gone through what I had gone through last year,” he said. “Nobody could relate, so I dealt with it on my own.”

So he’d trudge home following each bad game and try to sort through things solo.

“I’d go home and regroup and come back the next day to work and try to fix it,” he said. “It just never panned out.”

The center fielder’s distaste at confiding in anyone about just how much his struggles bothered him didn’t stop scores of people from offering unsolicited advice. It seemed there was someone at every turn with a proposed solution to his woes.

“And that’s the problem,” he said, “everybody wants to throw in their two cents all the time and you start trying to listen to everybody and before you know it you’ve got 100 people in your head. And you’re trying to play with him telling you something and him telling you something, and you just kind of take it with you to the field.”

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