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Little fanfare for family affair

TOM JONES and MARC TOPKIN
Published March 4, 2004

LAKELAND - Only 100 or so were in the stands and a good chunk of them were baseball executives or scouts. The game started at an unlikely baseball time of 10 a.m. There was no admission, no public address announcer and there were only two umpires. The lineups were comprised mostly of players who will spend the season in the minors.

But it might have been the most memorable game ever for Dmitri and Delmon Young.

Delmon Young, the Devil Rays top pick in last summer's draft, played on the same field as his brother Dmitri of the Detroit Tigers for the first time Wednesday.

"I've been waiting to see this for a long time," father Larry Young said.

Dad captured the day with his video camera.

Correction: "That was my video camera," said Dmitri, who is 12 years older than the 18-year-old Delmon.

Long after everyone else forgets about the Rays 8-4 victory in a meaningless B-game, the Youngs will replay the day with fond memories.

"I was just glued in on him the whole time," Dmitri said, "just watching him."

The lightest moment came when Delmon tripped coming out of the batter's box late in the game.

"I looked in the dugout and he was just laughing," Delmon said.

"I realized at that point that that's a Young family trait," Dmitri said. "I do that all the time."

Neither had a spectacular game. Delmon went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and an RBI. Dmitri went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. But that hardly mattered. The two just enjoyed spending time together on the same field.

Dmitri hasn't offered Delmon much advice this spring, but he told his little brother to stick close to Rays veteran Fred McGriff.

"The one person I want him to be around during his first camp is Mr. McGriff," Dmitri said. "I don't know if he's going to make the team or not, but I told (Delmon), "You go talk to that guy and get around him every chance you can.' ... He's a guy who has won Gold Gloves, home run titles, World Series, (he is) a model citizen on and off the field, a great community man. And at the same time, (he is) respected by his peers. That's who I want my brother to be around."

The Young brothers had dinner with McGriff last week.

Meantime, the two brothers enjoyed Wednesday like it was dessert.

GOOD START: Outfielder Joey Gathright went 2-for-3 with two runs and two stolen bases and infielder Deivi Cruz, looking to earn a job as a utility man, hit a homer to lead the Rays. Outfielder Jonny Gomes went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

"It was a good day to start and a good way to start," Rays manager Lou Piniella said.

Meantime, two pitchers looking for spots in the starting rotation pitched well.

Starter Mark Hendrickson gave up one hit and no runs over two innings and Paul Abbott pitched two perfect innings.

"You want to make sure you throw all your pitches," Abbott said. "That's the main thing. I was happy with the results."

FEELING BETTER: The bruise on Rocco Baldelli's left forearm had subsided and most of the discomfort had gone away Wednesday, a day after was hit by a pitch and sent for X-rays. "It's a little sore but it's feeling better," Baldelli said. "There's just pain associated with the swelling."

MISCELLANY: The Rays today will unveil their new Let's Play television commercials. ... Jeremi Gonzalez will start Saturday's spring opener against Pittsburgh. Victor Zambrano is expected to start Friday's B-game against the Tigers in Lakeland.

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