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Upton moves on after criticism, benching

Upton moves on after criticism, benching

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Upton moves on after criticism, benching
PHOENIX -- D-backs outfielder Justin Upton exchanged text messages with managing general partner Ken Kendrick on Wednesday, one day after Kendrick called Upton an "enigma" on a local radio show and said it was time for Upton to be more consistent.

"He's obviously frustrated with the way the team is playing," Upton said. "I am. We're both on the same page with that. The good thing is that he was honest and he didn't sugarcoat it. I think everybody is done sugarcoating things around here and we really just want to get back to winning, and that's the biggest thing."

Upton has been struggling of late, and manager Kirk Gibson held him out of the lineup Saturday in San Diego and then again Tuesday and Wednesday.

"There's really nothing to talk about," Gibson said when asked about Upton being out of the lineup. "I've expressed why I did it previous, and nothing's changed. Hopefully he will have a productive day today and be ready to win the game for us if that should be the case. He's a very important part to our team. We all know that and we're going to try and get him back on track."

Upton said he disagreed with Gibson's notion that he needed a few days off and referred to his day off Tuesday as "unproductive."

Both men were asked Wednesday about their relationship with each other.

"I'm comfortable with where we're at," Gibson said. "I think he's frustrated."

Said Upton, "He's the manager. He makes the decisions. I come here, I show up and do what I'm supposed to do. Me and Gibby have never had any bad blood, and I don't think there's any now."

Gibson explained that he felt like giving Upton a few days off in a row could help clear his head.

"I have no personal vendettas," Gibson said. "I think in the team's best interest all the time. It's not like I'm sitting in a dark room by myself excluding everyone in the organization. I'm not some ruler or dictator with the gavel sitting on my desk, 'We're doing this because I said so. Why? Because I said.'

"We think things out. We're trying to get Justin Upton back on track. We're trying to get our team back on track. It's as simple as that. And as a manager sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and I accept that."

Upton said he accepts that Gibson is doing what he feels is best for him, even if he doesn't agree with it.

"He's never done anything that didn't have my best interest at heart," Upton said. "Obviously, this time he's pushing the envelope and that's the way he feels like going about it, and I can't do anything but do what I can do. At the end of the day, hopefully it works out for both sides."

Upton said there were no hard feelings on his end with regards to Kendrick's comments about him needing to be more consistent.

"I agree 100 percent," Upton said. "I want to be consistent, but the fact that I'm not is frustrating for both of us. To be brutally honest, he's the one forking out the money for me to be here and I'm not performing to that level, so obviously he's got a reason to be frustrated. And me being the player and the competitor that I am, I'm not happy with it either. So I think we're both on the same page."

General manager Kevin Towers said that Upton was not to blame for the D-backs' disappointing record to this point in the season.

"Nobody is pointing the finger at Justin that he's the reason," Towers said. "It's all of us. I think we all need to kind of look in the mirror. From myself to Gibby to the coaching staff to the players, you know, 'What can we all do to make this thing better?'"

In the interview with 910 AM, Kendrick criticized injured shortstop Stephen Drew for not coming back sooner from his ankle surgery. Towers declined to do likewise.

"I've said all along, Stephen is the only one who really knows where he's truly at," Towers said. "I'm not Stephen, Gibby's not Stephen, Ken's not Stephen. He knows his pain tolerance, where he's at and what he's able to do and capable of doing. My hope is we get him back soon. It's probably taken a little longer than we expected, but none of us have gone through that type of injury. It's not fair for me to judge when he should be back."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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