tampabay.com

Maddon rips disgruntled Rays prospects

Dukes, Upton and Young - who else? - trash organization in USA Today over their lack of promotions to parent club.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published July 29, 2006


NEW YORK - Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was appalled.

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said it represented, "Disrespect towards the game and the achievement of becoming a major league player."

Prompting the reaction: An article in USA Today, on the front page of the sports section, about Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes and B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay's three prized prospects at Triple-A Durham.

The gist of the article was the players' dissatisfaction with being in the minors. The gist of the Rays' response was anger at what management perceives as the players' misplaced sense of entitlement.

The article had positive moments (Dukes talking about his need to control his well-documented anger and Upton's embarrassment at his recent arrest for suspicion of drunken driving, but they were overwhelmed by the following:

Young on not being called up to the majors: "I don't know what they're waiting for. They're, what, 30 games out of first place? They think they're going to mess up their clubhouse chemistry. B.J. should be up there. What are they waiting for? They always have excuses."

Dukes on Durham: "In the big leagues, you throw your uniform on the ground and it's washed and hung up nicely in your locker. Here, you do that, you come back the next day and find it still on the floor. Those guys up there (in the big leagues) shower in Evian. Here we use sewer water."

Upton: "I can't believe I'm here. The three of us thought we'd all be up in Tampa right now."

The players' history made it worse: Upton's bad defense and, until now, his refusal to switch from shortstop; Young's constant snarkiness toward the organization and the bat-throwing incident; and Dukes' numerous suspensions for run-ins with umpires, coaches and teammates.

No wonder things reached a boiling point.

"I don't know what qualifies people, at any age, to disrespect anybody in the manner that article indicated to me," Maddon said. "It speaks to disrespect in general and it speaks to a sense of entitlement that young athletes have today that I totally disagree with."

"To be honest with you, when I read that, I was speechless," Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford said. "What can you say to that? Maybe that's how they think they're supposed to act. I don't know why."

Maddon and Friedman were particularly angered by the portrayal of the Bulls organization.

"We think it's one of the premier organizations around," Friedman said. "To say these things about Durham didn't sit well with me and it's something I take great exception to."

Will there will be discipline? Friedman said it was too early to tell, though he did say his initial reaction was in a "macro sense to the whole article. We'll consider each individual and where we think they are."

That distinction should be important to Upton, who, after the trade of Aubrey Huff, switched to third base as a quicker route to the majors and was expected soon to be promoted.

On Friday, distinctions didn't matter.

"I think it indicates a lot of work we have to get done within this organization," Maddon said. "It's something we don't tolerate, we don't condone and don't agree with."

Besides, Rays infielder Ty Wigginton joked of Dukes' suggestion big-leaguers shower in Evian.

"We all get individually scrubbed from the trainers," he said. "I go back there and get into a big Jacuzzi and (Paul) Harker and Ronny Porterfield give me a sponge bath."