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Young moves step closer to majors

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published July 15, 2005

TORONTO - Eventually, perhaps by this September, Delmon Young will get the call he and others are waiting for, the one telling the Devil Rays' top prospect he is going to the big leagues.

But for now, he has to be content with smaller steps. Thursday, it was the news that he is being promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham.

"It was good news to get moved up. It will be a new challenge for the rest of the season," Young said by telephone. "I'm going to try to duplicate what I did in Montgomery in Durham."

If he can, it will be quite a story.

Young, 19, dominated against older and more experienced competition, leading the Southern League with 20 homers, 71 RBIs, 111 hits (in 84 games) and a .582 slugging percentage and ranking third with 25 steals and fourth with a .336 average.

"I think everyone in the organization has been very impressed up to this point with what he has been able to do," Rays player development/scouting director Cam Bonifay said. "We feel like he's ready for this challenge. He'll get close to eight weeks at Durham for us to continue to monitor his progress."

Rays manager Lou Piniella said the promotion will be good for Young as he goes from facing hard-throwing prospects at Double A to more experienced Triple-A pitchers who rely more on guile and deception.

"It will give him a taste of higher-classification minor-league ball. I would assume he will do a nice job there," Piniella said. "It's a good education, giving him both sides of it in a year."

Even better, of course, would be a September callup.

"It would be nice," Young said.

WAECHTER WOES: Doug Waechter felt further discomfort from a sore tendon in his right middle finger when throwing his fastball, delaying his return indefinitely. Waechter missed half of last season with a similar injury to the same finger. ... Third baseman Alex Gonzalez took batting practice and said the neck strain that has sidelined him since June 25 is improving. "We'll give him a few days," Piniella said.

READY TO ROLL: Reliever Joe Borowski joined the Rays eager and excited to assume the setup duties that have been a seasonlong problem.

Borowski, who signed after being released by the Cubs, hadn't pitched in a game since June 24 but has been working out near his Phoenix-area home and said his injury problems are behind him.

"I know I have a lot more left in the tank. I proved it to myself my last few outings," Borowski said. "I had that feeling back again. Not only mentally but physically, how the ball was coming out of my hand and where it was going. It was good that I saw I was able to get to that point again. So there's no doubt I have a lot left."

Piniella said he will try to ease Borowski, 34, into the setup role.

MORE MINOR MATTERS: Pitcher Jason Hammel, 8-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 starts for Montgomery, is expected to be moved up to Durham soon. He had to come out of his last start with groin tightness. ... Bonifay said top draft pick Wade Townsend is expected to return to action soon, perhaps tonight, for Class A Hudson Valley. He had been sidelined with a stiff neck after making his pro debut June 24. ... Jeff Niemann, the top 2004 draft pick, is expected to rejoin one of the minor-league teams within a week. He has been working out in St. Petersburg since early May after experiencing shoulder soreness. ... Durham shortstop B.J. Upton went 0-for-3 with a walk in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. He also had two errors. Pete LaForest was 0-for-1 with a walk.

MISCELLANY: TV broadcaster Dewayne Staats rejoined the Rays on Thursday; he had been away attending to his wife, Dee, who died July 8 after a long battle with cancer. ... The Rays posted their first shutout since Aug. 23, 2004, a span of 125 games without one. ... It was the fourth time this season they didn't issue any walks. ... The Jays recalled ex-Ray Chad Gaudin and designated pitcher Justin Miller for assignment. ... Piniella fined rookie outfielder Jonny Gomes for being late to Tuesday's early workout. ... The new electronic marquee outside Tropicana Field will be activated today at noon.

[Last modified July 15, 2005, 00:39:05]

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