Dbacks outfielder Justin Upton finds his stroke

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Justin Upton heard all the talk when he got off to a slow start this season and speculation grew that the Arizona Diamondbacks would send the 21-year-old right fielder back to the minors for more seasoning.

Upton opened the year in a 1-for-17 skid, but used the negative talk as motivation.

By the end of April he was hitting .250, and he raised his average to .346 with a torrid stretch in May.

Upton has cooled off -- he's hitting .306 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs -- but now the only speculation is whether he'll make his first All-Star game appearance in St. Louis next month. Upton wasn't among the NL's top 15 outfielders when the latest voting results were released yesterday but could be chosen by NL manager Charlie Manuel to represent the Diamondbacks.

Upton is among the few bright spots in a dismal season in the desert. The Diamondbacks are 27-37 and trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by 15 games in the NL West.

The D-Backs were off yesterday before opening a six-game trip at Kansas City tonight.