J. Upton exits with left hamstring cramp
Outfielder expects to be ready if needed for Monday's opener vs. Phillies
ATLANTA -- Braves left fielder Justin Upton left Sunday afternoon's 9-4 win against the Marlins in the fifth inning with a cramp in his left hamstring after running out a bunt down the first-base line.
With two on and no out in the bottom of the fifth, Upton laid down a bunt that died in fair territory just to the left of the batter's box, but Marlins catcher Koyie Hill threw to third to retire lead baserunner Mike Minor. When time was called after the fielder's choice, Upton remained bent over off of first base, stretching out and jogging into the outfield grass before eventually walking back to the dugout with team assistant athletic trainer Jim Lovell and drinking several cups of water.
"It was once I was walking back [to first base], it was cramping up," Upton said after the game. "We tried to chug some water real quick in the dugout, so they just told me to take it in."
B.J. Upton replaced his younger brother at first base as a pinch-runner and came around to score on Freddie Freeman's three-run home run. B.J. took over in center field to start the top of the sixth, with starter Jordan Schafer shifting to left field to take Justin Upton's place.
"It's a cramp that he gets every once in a while," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've got to figure out a way for that not to happen to him, especially in a day game. I think this is the second time this has happened to him in this season here. It's funny, because in Arizona, he lives in the hot [weather] but plays in the air conditioning. Here, it's the other way around -- here he lives in the air conditioning and plays in the hot weather."
Upton didn't think the cramp was a serious issue and certainly a much lesser threat to his playing time than the left calf strain he suffered on July 12. Since returning from that injury after the All-Star break, he is hitting .311 with six home runs, 16 RBIs and an OPS of .923. Upton expected to be ready to go if called upon for Monday night's series opener against the Phillies.
"At this point, it's late in the season, and it wasn't getting any cooler out there, so that was the decision we made," Upton said.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.