Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 5/13/13
PHOENIX -- Kirk Gibson and Justin Upton used to run into each other before every Diamondbacks game. Literally run into each other. Bolo each other was what Gibson called it. Those who said the two did not get along did not see that. Their meeting was less physical Monday, when Upton returned to Chase Field for the first time since the January seven-player trade that remade both the Diamondbacks and Braves. Upton, however, still made it hurt. He basically decided the game with the kind of no-doubt home run that he was known for here, a deep drive into the center field stands in the sixth inning, just to the right field side of the batters eye measured at 440 feet. It made it 5-1. Upton had been there before, but always with the D-backs. The homer, his major-league-high 13th, and three other hits on a 4-for-5 night only added evidence for those who believe the D-backs should have found a way to live with Upton and the final three years of his contract. Some liked the deal. Some hated it. Upton received the same sort of mixed response when he stepped to the plate in his normal No. 3 hole (some things never change) in the first inning -- more cheers, but some boos, too. He grounded to third baseman Martin Prado. Of course. The symbolism made a 180 in the sixth inning, however when Upton crushed a 2-0 pitch from Wade Miley after brother B.J. Upton was hit in the left shoulder to open the inning. The Braves made the deal for at-bats just like that, to fortify their lineup to contend with the Nationals in the NL East. Upton was a nice fit to pair with B.J., who signed as a free agent last winter. The D-backs wanted a player who made more contact, could move runners and was steadier in the field. Prado is that guy, even though his offense has not been there this season and his first error of the season contributed to the Braves' three-run fifth. The minor league package that the D-backs received also deepened them at shortstop, a position of strength for trading partners of the future. Six weeks in Atlanta does not appear to have changed Upton. He has the same infectious laugh. it filled the hallway as he approached his pregame press conference. The same game. The same pop in his bat. The same flaws -- three outfield errors, 41 strikeouts in 130 at-bats coming in. The D-backs were willing to trade steady for the occasionally spectacular. It is a swap both can live with, even if the early results skew toward the Braves. Both teams are contenders, so the deal could not have been all bad. Teammate Miguel Montero said last week that he believed Upton had gotten tired of being mentioned as a trade candidate the previous three seasons, so the trade was a good thing. Upton said basically the same thing to an Atlanta TV station, although the subject was not addressed Monday. Even after Upton used his no-trade option to veto a trade to Seattle last winter, he said he did not expect the Jan. 24 deal to Atlanta, even though it was only a matter of time until he was dealt because the D-backs had added outfielder Cody Ross, another solid steady type. Upton thanked the Diamondbacks for his six years at his press conference, and before going through stretching exercises on the field, he shook hands with team presidentCEO Derrick Hall and managing partner Ken Kendrick, who offered a hug. Don Baylor and Upton shared some time. Upton also hugged Gerardo Parra, former right fielder to current one. From my perspective, the organization was going in a different direction and I wasnt a part of that. In turn, they got players that they needed that they feel like filled their holes, Upton said. Upton has -- and made -- some good memories in his six seasons in Arizona. He played on two playoff teams, in 2007 and 2011, and was fourth in the NL MVP voting in 2011. He took off over the final four months of 2011 after a discussion with Gibson and Baylor about letting the game come to him. I understood him because he went through a lot of what I went through when I was a young player, Gibson said. Upton is a changed player because of his time learning the game with Gibson and Baylor, but parting was probably best for all concerned. He moves forward with a new challenge, although he would not call it a clean slate. My past still comes with me, Upton said. "Its a new year and you get a chance to go out and put up different numbers and be a part of winning team. iIs really up to you each year to rewrite the books." Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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