tampabay.com

Young knows he must make adjustments

By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 15, 2006


NEW YORK - However Delmon Young celebrated, the Devil Rays rookie said just being in the major leagues when he turned 21 on Thursday was a good enough present.

"I'll take that for this birthday," he said. "Try to get a couple victories and take what I learned during this five-week trial into the offseason. Now I've got a good idea of what to work on. I know I've got to get a little bit stronger to play the extra 20 games (than in a minor-league season).

"And I've got to get my hitting down because the pitching at this level is really good and there's (detailed advance) scouting and everything."

Young said he knows teams will make adjustments in the way they pitch him - heck, he said he asked Oakland ace Barry Zito after Sunday's game why the A's pitched him a certain way - and that his challenge will be adjusting back while maintaining his same style.

And that includes swinging at the first pitch, as he has done 23 times (getting 10 hits), or something close to it.

"If it looks good, I'm going to take a hack at it," Young said.

"I think I can hit any pitch anywhere, so I'm going to take a hack if I think I can square it up."

What he has done so far has worked, as he had 23 hits and a .371 average in his first 15 big-league games.

Manager Joe Maddon, who has raved about Young's abilities and attitude since his late August promotion, sounded at least curious about how Young responds to the adjustments teams make.

"As they get to know him better, they're going to have to see what happens in regard to the fact that he does swing at a lot of pitches," Maddon said. "That's been his MO all the time, but he has a tendency to put the head of the bat on the ball. So I think that's the one curious thing in the near future, and in the future, is to see - when pitchers get to see him again - how this all plays out offensively."

Young said he has enjoyed getting to this point.

"This is fun," he said. "I could be at home right now watching the games on TV or just doing nothing and chilling."

GREAT SCOTT: Scott Kazmir is working out in St. Petersburg but has not started throwing, which just about ends any chance he had to come back from shoulder soreness and pitch again this season.

"We haven't totally shut it down, but, I mean, it's getting really close," Maddon said.

PITCHING IN: To keep rookie Jason Hammel on a regular schedule, the Rays will start him Monday against Baltimore and bump struggling Tim Corcoran, who hasn't won since early July, to Tuesday. Jae Seo is scheduled for Wednesday.

AND CATCHING: Rookie Shawn Riggans, who was called up after a solid season at Triple-A Durham, is scheduled to make his first major-league starts tonight and Sunday. Maddon wanted to wait until the Rays completed their run of playing the contending Twins, A's and Yankees. ... Outfielder Damon Hollins, relegated to spot duty since Young's promotion, might play Saturday and Sunday with Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford getting days off.

HERE'S JONNY: Thanks to seventh-grader Shamika Smith's winning entry, the A.J. Ferrell Middle Magnet School in Tampa won the contest to have designated hitter Jonny Gomes come to school. Gomes will visit Monday, walking Smith to class then speaking to the students.

MINOR MATTERS: Double-A Montgomery blasted Huntsville 7-0 Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Southern League championship. Mitch Talbot, acquired with Ben Zobrist from Houston for Aubrey Huff, turned in another sterling start, striking out 10 in a five-hit complete game. Ryan Christianson, Michael Coleman and Jeremy Owens homered for the Biscuits.

Class A Visalia opened against Inland Empire in the California League championship series late Thursday after a 5-2 victory Wednesday over defending champion San Jose in the fifth and final game of the Northern Division final. Derek Feldkamp picked up the win with a solid start, and Shaun Cumberland led the offense with three hits.

MISCELLANY: Crawford stole his 51st and 52nd bases Thursday, seven shy of his career high (59 in 2004). ... The Rays are 3-18-3 in series play at Yankee Stadium. ... There is no TV coverage of tonight's game.