1/29/2013 4:47 P.M. ET
Uptons the latest in a line of brotherly teammates
By Paul Casella / MLB.com
For the first time since 1995, the Braves will be opening a season without Chipper Jones on their roster. Yet instead of focusing on his replacement at third base come Opening Day, the spotlight figures to fall on the Braves' new-look outfield.
After all, B.J. and Justin Upton both found their way to Atlanta this offseason and are next in a line of approximately 100 sets of brothers to play as teammates.
Though rare, brothers donning the same Major League uniform is nothing new. It can be traced as far back as 1882, when Bill and Jack Gleason suited up for the St. Louis Browns.
More recently, Jerry and Scott Hairston played one season together with the Padres in 2010 before going their separate ways via free agency.
"It was a great memory, to be able to go to the same clubhouse together," said Jerry, the 36-year-old utility man, now with the Dodgers. "I sure can see the appeal to the Uptons. It's a positive."
The combination, however, certainly doesn't come without some potential negatives.
Similar to the Hairstons in San Diego, neither B.J. nor Justin was a member of the Braves prior to the two becoming teammates. Now the attention has shifted almost entirely to them, as talks continue to revolve around the new potent pair in Atlanta's outfield.
"One thing for us, we didn't want the focus of the clubhouse to be on brothers," said Jerry, four years Scott's senior. "Having grown up in clubhouses and knowing the dynamics of it and how they can get divided into cliques, we made sure our lockers were on opposite sides of the clubhouse."
At Tuesday's introductory news conference, Justin was asked if his locker would be in close proximity to his older brother's.
"It might start out us with us near each other and end up with me moving farther away," the 25-year-old Justin, a two-time All-Star, joked. "I'm not sure how to answer that question yet."
The list of brothers who have played together as teammates includes such names as Hank and Tommie Aaron, Chris and Tony Gwynn, Pedro and Ramon Martinez, Gaylord and Jim Perry, and Cal and Billy Ripken. The duration of each reunion has varied, though history suggests it's rare for brothers to remain teammates for consecutive seasons.
The Uptons are hoping to defy that trend, however, with B.J. agreeing to a five-year, $75.25 million deal in November and Justin under contract through 2015.
B.J., 28, admitted that the two have long hoped to spend at least one season together before their careers ended, but prior to last week's trade, which sent Justin from Arizona to Atlanta, he never envisioned it happening so soon.
"We've talked about playing together since we were kids, but the way our contracts and ages worked out, I never dreamed it would happen this early in our careers," B.J. said. "I'm excited to play some good prime years with [Justin]."
Both Uptons are regarded as plus defenders, and they share the rare combination of speed and power at the plate. B.J. has back-to-back 20-homer seasons and has averaged 39 stolen bases over the past five years, and Justin has averaged 22.8 home runs and 19.3 stolen bases over the past four.
Now playing in the same outfield, those numbers could get even better as a result of classic sibling rivalry.
Gaylord and Jim Perry had each won a Cy Young Award before they pitched together in 1974, yet as part of the Indians' rotation that season, they both experienced a spike in production from 1973. Gaylord went from 19-19 with a 3.38 ERA in '73 to 21-13 with a 2.51 ERA, and Jim improved from 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA to 17-12 with a 2.96 ERA.
"It's competitive," Gaylord said of playing alongside his older brother. "You're always trying to win. We handled the situation pretty well, I thought."
As the Uptons prepare to enter camp with their new teammates, they know plenty of adjustments lie ahead. In addition to acclimating to a new team and city, Justin is expected to transition from right field to left.
Justin also expects to "butt heads" with B.J. at times, but that's almost expected with brothers working side by side in the same outfield.
"It's awesome. I love to see that," said former pitcher Pedro Martinez, who pitched with his brother, Ramon, for the Dodgers (1992-93) and Red Sox (1999-2000). "It was fun both times [Ramon and I] played together. I was always the little brother, and his advice would always come first.
"What he said was a rule, and I always had that same respect for him when we were on the same team."
Whether B.J. and Justin will share that same hierarchy -- or locker room space -- remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: The brothers will be sharing the same outfield at Turner Field come spring.