Young is suspended indefinitely

Rays' top prospect could be out weeks for flinging bat at ump.

Published April 28, 2006

NEW YORK - Delmon Young said he was sorry. The Devil Rays apologized for behavior they said can't and won't be tolerated.

But the loudest voice the day after Young threw a bat at an umpire came from International League president Randy Mobley, who, after talking to the umpire and Rays officials, suspended Young indefinitely pending a review of the events.

A formal punishment could be handed out today, and it is expected to include a hefty suspension without pay, possibly up to three weeks. The Rays could tack on an additional term, making it possible Young, their 20-year-old top prospect, could be out up to a month.

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman supported Mobley's decision.

"It's a very unfortunate incident," Friedman said. "I'd like to apologize to the fans, the baseball community and to the umpire himself for the incident. We're still working with the International League to figure out the appropriate punishments. ... This isn't anything the organization will tolerate. It's not part of the game and it never should be."

Young issued a statement through agent Arn Tellem, saying he regretted his actions.

"In the heat of the competition my emotions got the better of me," Young said. "My behavior was completely unacceptable. I want everyone to know that I recognize that it is never right to throw a bat, and I certainly never intended for the bat to make contact with the umpire. Nevertheless, I owe an apology to my team, the fans and most importantly to the umpire, for the incident. I am sorry."

A widely circulated video shows Young, after being called out on a pitch that appeared to be outside, lingering in the batter's box for about 12 seconds and making several comments to the umpire. He appeared to make one more as he left and was immediately ejected. Young then walks toward the dugout (and out of the video), and seconds later the bat is seen flying end-over-end toward the umpire, striking him in the chest.

From the video and several news accounts, it appears Young intentionally flung the bat. But Rays infielder/outfielder Greg Norton, who was called up Thursday from Durham, said: "It wasn't violent, and I don't feel it was meant to hit him."

Young's behavior has been an issue before, including occasional churlish comments to the media, a clubhouse attitude noted by veterans such as Carl Crawford and public criticism of the organization after not being called up last season.

He reportedly flung his bat "high in the air" and "about two-thirds the way" toward Birmingham pitcher Dwayne Pollack after being hit by a pitch last season with Double-A Montgomery, and several weeks later was suspended three games for bumping an umpire after being called out on strikes.

When Young, an outfielder for Triple-A Durham who is expected to be called up to the majors in the summer, returns from this suspension, he will have to deal with a label that could stick.

"Things like that tend to follow," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Then again, if he does everything to put it behind (him) properly, then it may not. I think if he shows the proper remorse, it might be there, but it might not be there with as much weight."

Friedman plans to meet soon with Young.

"What's most important for us right now is ensuring that Delmon learns from this experience," Friedman said. "I had the fortune of getting to know him over the past year, and he's actually a very good person. Therefore I am very confident that he will learn from this experience and ensure that this or anything similar never happens again."

The umpire was a replacement for the striking minor-league umpires. Teams are uniformly not releasing the replacements' names. Chris Hubler, a regular International League crew chief, said in an e-mail to the Times that Young had previously handled himself in a "respectful, professional manner," and the quality of the replacement's work could have been part of the problem.

Times correspondent Mike Scandura contributed to this report.