Rays sign D. Young to Minor League deal
Outfielder, who was drafted No. 1 by Tampa Bay in 2003, played for the Phils this year
ST. PETERSBURG -- Delmon Young has re-joined the Rays. Released recently by the Phillies, Young, 27, has signed a Minor League deal with Tampa Bay and will report to Double-A Montgomery.
"It's a great feeling [to be back]," said Young on a conference call. "I've always thought about it since I left. ... Great place to play. Great group of guys and one of the best divisions in all of baseball."
Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the Rays were looking to bolster their depth.
"And Delmon does that," Friedman said. "He's another right-handed-hitting option that we will potentially have available to us for the stretch run. It's way too early to predict all the roster changes that we'll have between now and the end of the season. I just know that we're better prepared today with Delmon as an option for us."
Young last played Aug. 8 and figures to need some at-bats in the Minors to get ready. Friedman said that Montgomery's schedule best suited the pursuit of getting Young's swing ready, since the Biscuits' travel schedule is not as busy as those of other affiliates, such as Triple-A Durham.
"He'll really focus on his swing and not have a lot of wasted time traveling," Friedman said.
Young has been controversial throughout his career, including an incident in April 2012 that occurred in New York, where police arrested him on a second-degree aggravated harassment charge. Major League Baseball suspended him seven days as a result. Young pleaded guilty on Nov. 7, and the league ordered him to undergo anger management and alcohol counseling. Young also served 10 days of community service.
Friedman is confident that Young has changed dramatically since that latest episode.
"We spent time together in recent years, and 27-year-old Delmon is very different than 22-year-old Delmon," Friedman said. "He's grown and matured as a person since he was a Devil Ray in '07, and he's really motivated to help the Rays down the stretch."
Young agreed with Friedman's assessment of his maturity, making note of his youth while initially with the organization.
Tampa Bay, then known as the Devil Rays, selected Young with the first overall pick of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. The top prospect made it to the Majors in '06 and stayed with the club until it traded him to the Twins after the '07 season. Young had finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting that year.
Young's trade to the Twins, along with Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie, brought the Rays Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza, who were key components to Tampa Bay's 2008 run to the World Series. The Rays also acquired Minor Leaguer Eduardo Morlan in the deal.
After three seasons with the Twins, Young went to Detroit, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in last year's AL Championship Series after hitting .353 with two home runs and six RBIs for the Tigers against the New York Yankees.
Young signed a one-year deal with the Phillies this offseason. He posted a .261/.302/.397 batting line in 80 games, with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. The Phils designated him for assignment on Aug. 9 and released him five days later.
A career .283/.316/.423 hitter, Young has consistently fared better against left-handed pitchers, which could make him a nice fit as part of a platoon at DH.
"I think the biggest thing is as we look into September, Delmon has not only experienced the September-type atmosphere and excelled, but he's also really handled left-handed pitching over the years," Friedman said. "So I think it gives us another option to potentially leverage our roster in different ways. … He's still got strengths and abilities to still help us win games. … If he does come up, we feel like he'll have a chance to help us do that."
Friedman added that Young expressed how happy he was to have another opportunity with the Rays. Young will report to Montgomery and should be in the lineup by Friday night. Friedman said there is no timetable for him to join the team -- or guarantee that he will, but Friedman noted that they would not have signed him if they did not believe he could help the club. Friedman also said that the club will monitor Young's progress on a daily basis.
Young said he really didn't know how long it would take him to get ready.
"Just going to go out here and try and get some timing and rhythm," Young said. "And have my swing mechanics be the same. Could take 30 or 40 at-bats, depends on how everythng is going."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.