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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Delmon helps Rays go out on an up note
The rookie apologizes for the previous day's tiff before a season-ending victory.
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 1, 2007
TORONTO - At least the Devil Rays had a happy ending.
Rookie Delmon Young made up with manager Joe Maddon and the Rays wrapped up their season with an 8-5 Sunday victory over the Blue Jays.
It was their last game as the Devil Rays and in their green uniforms, as well as the end of a first decade in which they averaged 97 losses. Despite finishing with a major-league-worst 66-96 record, they are hoping the change in name Rays and color (blue) won't be the only things that are different.
"I've got good noise next year," Maddon said. "I'm saying we're going to make some good noise. What I mean by that is we should make a good charge at being a 50-50 team next year. And the year after that is the year I really expect us to move forward."
Young, most likely, will be an integral part of any such improvement. And the tempestuous rookie smoothed over Saturday's controversy by coming in Sunday morning - at the counsel of his agent and perhaps his father - and apologizing to Maddon. Young, despite repeated warnings, failed to run out a ground ball, then complained publicly about being yanked from the game, and the issue threatened to linger throughout the offseason.
"He's a young man and in a sense it's almost like talking to your son at a particular age," Maddon said. "There's certain things you have to filter through at times, and we did. I told him exactly what I thought again, and by the conclusion of our conversation I was pleased with our conclusion and just ready to move on. It's behind us. I never want to see that come up again."
Young, in fewer words, also said he considered the matter resolved, though he wouldn't discuss what led him to his change of mind. Saturday he said he was being unfairly singled out because other players were doing the same thing, and that he wouldn't participate in the season finale.
"That was yesterday, we don't need to talk about any of this no more," he said. "End of conversation."
Young, 21, said he learned "a lot" during his first full major-league season but didn't exactly show contrition when asked what he learned specifically from Saturday's incident: "Do things that won't p--- people off."
And as for Maddon saying that having all players run hard is one of his most sacred rules? "No comment," Young said.
Maddon said he left the conversation in his office confident Young would never fail to run hard to first again, and showed it with a change of position, allowing Young to appear in Sunday's game as a sixth-inning substitute, completing his bid to play in all 162. Maddon also continued to campaign publicly for Young to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, though Saturday's actions undoubtedly further damaged his reputation and hurt his chances with the voters.
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said he thought the issue was handled properly and could turn out to be "a positive" for Young and other players in that they understand the consequences of not following Maddon's relatively few rules.
"I think, yeah, there's a message that's sent to everyone," Friedman said.
So did Maddon: "It also indicated that when we say we're going to do something, we do it."