Simplified approach has Upton thriving

Simplified approach has Upton thriving

PHOENIX -- Over the past two weeks, Justin Upton has shown significant improvement at the plate.

So, does that mean the D-backs outfielder has finally been able to make those mechanical changes at the plate that have been talked about since Spring Training?

Not really.

"I stopped thinking about that two weeks ago," Upton said. "Forget the mechanics. See ball, hit ball. And that's helped me really get a feel for what I'm doing at the plate rather than thinking about things up there. I'm just being relaxed and feel what I'm doing rather than think about what I'm doing."

You can't argue with the success. Since April 14, Upton is hitting .303 (10-for-33) with three doubles, two homers, a .395 on-base percentage and a .970 OPS (on-base plus slugging).

If there was a starting point for the turnaround, it was an eighth-inning at-bat against the Cardinals on April 14. Upton fell behind 0-2 in the count, battled back to 3-2 and was then hit by a pitch. Conor Jackson followed with a big homer, and the D-backs went on to win in 10 innings.

"That kind of got me into the mind-set I'm in now, which is that I'm not worrying about mechanics," Upton said. "In that at-bat, I was just worried about getting on base and I forgot everything mechanically and I actually felt comfortable at the plate. Letting my athletic ability takeover is going to be big for me and not worrying so much about the result -- just focusing on having a good at-bat."

Upton, scouts agree, has a world of talent and should he get on a roll, watch out.

"I think [there is] even more to come," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "I wouldn't suggest he's swinging the bat as well as he can, but he's swinging it a lot better. He's doing some little things and he's getting more and more confident, and with a guy like him, all it will take is one really good game where maybe he hits three balls hard, hits the ball out of the ballpark and you'll see his ability take over. It's going in the right direction."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.