tampabay.com

After all the talk, Young is in bigs

The prospect is called up with hopes that he'll help the Rays on the field and not hurt them off it.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 29, 2006


CHICAGO - The Devil Rays have seen how Delmon Young can hurt the organization with his bad behavior and stinging comments. Now they want to see how ready he is to help the team with his potent bat and powerful arm.

The Rays on Monday summoned Young to the majors and he is expected to make his debut tonight in rightfield against the White Sox.

"We obviously deliberated over this for a long time and talked to many people," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "During Delmon's suspension we talked to him about some of the things he would need to do when he started playing again, and he's performed very well on and off the field lately. We feel this promotion, along with others we'll make, will help us answer some questions going into the offseason."

Young, the top pick of the 2003 draft, said he was a little surprised and a lot excited by the move.

"It's a dream come true," he said from Durham late Monday night. "When you start playing baseball as a little kid you want to play in the big leagues, and it's about to happen."

Young, 20, is considered one of the game's most talented prospects but has created considerable trouble with his attitude and actions.

Most famously, he was suspended 50 games after throwing his bat at an umpire in an April 26 game. He also has publicly criticized the Rays for not calling him up sooner.

He has played well since returning in June from the suspension and, according to Rays officials as well as former Bulls teammate Kevin Witt, has improved his attitude as well.

"People learn from their mistakes, and I learned from mine," Young said. "I just want to move on and play baseball."

Young put up decent but not spectacular numbers at Triple A, hitting .316 with eight homers, 59 RBIs and 22 steals in 86 games. The Rays would like to see more power and improvement in his strikeout/walk ratio of 65/15.

Young was likely to be called up next week after the end of the Triple-A season, but the move was expedited Monday when Jonny Gomes received a second opinion from Dr. Tim Kremchek in Cincinnati that he needs season-ending surgery on his right shoulder and was placed on the disabled list. Young was in the starting lineup for Durham on Monday but was pulled out and told of the promotion.

The Rays will be interested to see what Young can do over the final 31 games, but also how he does it - how he deals with success and failure, how he handles himself in tough situations, what he says and how he says it, etc.

"We feel pretty confident that he is ready to come up and fit into our clubhouse," Friedman said, "although obviously we will continue to monitor that, and also gauge his development on the field."

It also will be interesting to see how he is treated by umpires, who might use their calls to show what they thought of his bat toss. "I think Delmon is fully aware that his reputation with the umpires is something that he is going to have to battle for some time," Friedman said.

The report on Gomes was about as good as could have been expected, Friedman said. He will have arthroscopic surgery in the near future to remove an impingement, and the Rays are "extremely optimistic that he will be ready well in advance of spring training."

Gomes, 25, has had problems with the shoulder since the spring but had hoped to complete the season before having it fixed. Instead, he finished with a .216 average, 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 117 games.

At first, the shoulder problem primarily impacted Gomes' ability to throw, so the Rays limited him to DH duties and kept him out of the outfield. But it eventually affected his swing, as evidenced by the significant dropoff in production: 17 homers in the first 63 games and only three in the next 68. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .124 with two homers and seven RBIs.

Still, Gomes considered the season a success, especially the way it started, when he became only the 13th player in big-league history to hit 13 or more homers in April.

"The first month, the first half was good," he said. "I had a gang of votes for the All-Star team, so to be able to have that in my first full season, my first opening day (in the majors), I take it as a positive. The second half definitely wasn't as planned, but certainly was a good learning experience for me."