Atlanta outfielder B.J. Upton remains on track to rejoin the team this weekend after a pain-free outing in the second of what is expected to be three rehab appearances.
The 27-year-old went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored in the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves' 7-5 win over the visiting Charlotte Knights in front of 3,764 fans at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Thursday evening.
"I feel pretty good," Upton said. "It was definitely what I'm looking for in this rehab stint. I couldn't be more excited about it. Just get the at-bats and get back on my legs and get the innings under my belt and get back into baseball shape."
Playing center field and batting leadoff, Upton ripped a 1-2 pitch the other way for a double to right field in the first inning. He advanced to third base on Philip Gosselin's bunt single and scored on left fielder's Alden Carrithers' RBI single to right.
"I got a good fastball to hit," Upton said. "It was a good pitch, but the fact that I was able to drive it to the other side was something I was looking to do all year."
Upton doubled again in the second frame, this time lacing right-hander Zach Stewart's first offering to center to plate two runs. Consecutive base hits by second baseman Gosselin and Carrithers again chased him home.
"I got a good fastball over the plate and I drove the ball to right-center field," said Upton, who signed with Atlanta as a free agent last November. "I hit the ball like I wanted to. Running [the bases] was very good and that is a big part of [the rehab]. I had no issues."
The 6-foot-3 right-hander pulled a 1-0 single to left with one out in the fourth and scored on Gosselin's double to center field before popping out to first baseman Travis Ishikawa in foul ground in the sixth.
In the field, Upton recorded one putout on a fly ball to end the sixth before coming out of the game in the top of the seventh.
"I had to go to the gap for a ball or two and I had no issues, so that's pretty good," said Upton, who is set to make $12,450,000 this season in the first of a five-year contract with the Braves. "Everything you look for in a rehab stint, I got done tonight. I ran the bases hard and had to stop on a dime and I had no issues with that."
Thursday's outing marked Upton's second rehab game. He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first appearance Wednesday. He has been sidelined since mid-July with a strained right adductor muscle, sustained when he dove for a sinking line drive and twisted his body upon landing.
"It was one of those unfortunate things," he said of the injury. "It was a freak accident, the way I landed and the way it made my leg jerk. It was unfortunate that it happened that way.
If Upton experiences no further problems Friday, he could rejoin the Braves this weekend in the middle of a three-game set against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
"Three days is the plan right now unless I hear otherwise," he said of his rehab timeline.
Upton was batting .177 with eight homers, 20 RBIs and seven stolen bases for Atlanta before being placed on the 15-day disabled list July 13.
"[I want to] keep playing the way I'm playing and hopefully start swinging the bat better than I have been," he said. "I just want to throw my two cents in and not try to do too much [on my return]. We're playing well and whatever I can do to help the team win is what I'll do."
On Thursday, Gwinnett right-hander David Hale (6-5) allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three batters over six innings.
Charlotte starter Stewart (5-12) surrendered seven runs on 10 hits over four innings. He issued two free passes and struck out a pair of Braves in a losing effort.
Shortstop Marcus Semien went 2-for-5 with a double in his Triple-A debut for the Knights. The No. 9 White Sox prospect hit .290 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games for the Double-A Birmingham Barons prior to his promotion.