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AP: 9973b412-2965-41aa-9700-55e5abc98b59
Arizona Diamondbacks' Justin Upton blows a bubble during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
The time has come. No more excuses. Justin Upton has to put this Arizona Diamondbacks team on his back and carry them. He may be only 24-years-old, but he has played in the major leagues since 2007, he has over 600 games and over 2,200 at-bats on his resume. The Arizona Diamondbacks are struggling to win baseball games and Upton is off to an awful start through the first six weeks. He is hitting .235 with three home runs and nine runs batted in. And frankly that is unacceptable for a player of his caliber.

The first thing Upton needs to do is get in the cage with Don Baylor and fix all the holes in his swing and stop giving away at-bats. Right now his inability to hit with runners in scoring position is killing this team. He has just two hits in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position, which is .091.

Nothing was more evident of his struggles with runners on base then during Monday night's 9-6 loss to the Cardinals. In the bottom of the first inning after falling behind 3- 0, Gerrado Parra tripled leading off the inning. Upton then proceeded to strike out and Parra was eventually left stranded at third. Upton has to get that run in, somehow, someway. And he doesn't need a base hit to do it. Too many times this year Upton has failed to get runs across the plate in crucial situations.

But the time to end this slump is right now. And although the lineup has experience, it is Upton who has the ability to carry it for a week to ten days and get Arizona back on track. He needs to shorten up his swing and drive the ball. He needs to get hot because if he gets hot it changes the entire lineup and the way opposing pitchers approach it.

Upton can strike fear into a pitcher. He can hit for power, as evidenced by his 31 homers last year. When he's right, his presence makes everyone else in the lineup better.

Right now Upton is an easy out. There is no fear when he comes to the plate, no reason to pitch around him. And that has to change. Because this team ultimately goes as Upton goes. Other players can get hot at times and have a good season, but no one player can affect the game offensively as much as Upton with his combination of power and speed.

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