All-Star outfielder Justin Upton, 22, signed a $51.25 million, six-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the second biggest deal in the franchise's history, then said he welcomes the challenge of living up to high expectations.
“I do kind of put that pressure on myself,” he said. “I want to be great, that’s the thing. If you want to be great, then you set your goals higher.”
Upton earned his first All-Star berth last season, when he hit .300 with 26 homers and 86 RBI.
His statistics compare favorably with those of some of the game’s greats at the same age, including Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.
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“There’s a lot to live up to,” he said, “and I think I’m ready for that.”
The only bigger contract in Diamondbacks’ history was the $52.4 million, four-year deal Randy Johnson signed in 1999.
Will gloves stop injuries?
Former All-Star Reggie Smith is making the rounds of spring training trying to persuade big league batters to try a new product that may help them avoid injuries.
A startup company called XProTeX is touting its batting gloves as something that will reduce the pain of being hit by a 100 mph fastball to the damage inflicted by a 40 mph change-up.
Players are being invited to try the gloves this spring. With exhibition games starting only Wednesday, it is hard to find evidence so far that the gloves are working.
“I think it’s going to help,” New York Mets catcher Omir Santos said. “It sounds like it’s going to work.”
XProTeX was formed by X Bats president Jack Kasarjian, whose company is known for supplying maple bats to major leaguers.
“Essentially it will reduce the impact by over 60 percent …,” Kasarjian said. “It’s really an area where players are very vulnerable.”
An online check shows the batting gloves retail for as much as $80 a pair.
The Baltimore Orioles broke in their new spring home in Sarasota, Fla., with six homers, including one by infielder Miguel Tejada, in a 12-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. … Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker selected Aaron Harang to be opening day starter for a team record-tying fifth consecutive season. … Pasco’s Jeremy Bonderman pitched two shutout innings after missing most of last season with right shoulder circulation problems in the Detroit Tigers’ 7-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. … All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman will sit out the Houston Astros’ spring opener today against Washington because of a bruised left knee. … Major League Baseball’s licensing arm has settled a lawsuit it filed against baseball card maker Upper Deck for allegedly stealing trademarks. MLB said the company agreed to pay more than $2.4 million on sales of unlicensed cards in 2009 and an undisclosed sum for sales in 2010.