LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- B.J. Upton has opted to appease those Braves fans who have said they "don't want to see B.J." in the lineup again this year. Now, the veteran outfielder can only hope that he is capable of altering his production as easily as he has the name he will use this season.
Upton's representatives confirmed that he will go by his birth name, Melvin Upton Jr., this upcoming season. The 30-year-old outfielder has long gone by the name B.J., which is short for Bossman (his father Manny's nickname) Jr.
Upton will explain his reasoning for the name change when he reports to Braves camp this week. All position players are required to report by Tuesday and the first workout will be staged on Wednesday.
While many fans have exhausted hope that Upton will eventually provide some value in Atlanta, the Braves are not in a position where they can just cut ties with a player that they are required to pay $46.35 million over the next three seasons.
Though they were willing to eat at least half of his remaining contract, the Braves proved unsuccessful with the many attempts they made this offseason to trade Upton, who has batted .198 with 21 homers and a .593 OPS (lowest among all Major Leaguers with at least 1,000 plate appearances) since signing a five-year, $75.25 million deal with Atlanta before the 2013 season.
After hitting .184 with a .557 OPS in 2013, Upton batted .208 with a .620 OPS and 20 stolen bases last season. Though he at least trended in the right direction, it is safe to say he has not come close to the expectations that were set when he received his then franchise-record deal after hitting .246 with 28 homers, 31 stolen bases and a .752 OPS for the Rays in 2012.
Mark Bowman is the Braves beat reporter for MLB.com. He has been covering the club since 2001.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.