Chicago White Sox 12, D-Rays 9. Did anybody notice that the Devil Rays lost their 80th game last night? Neither did we. Delmon Young has arrived. There had been much speculation in recent weeks about if and when the Rays would call up Young. Some believed that the Rays would not call him up as one last bit of punishment for the incident back in April in which he threw a bat at an umpire and was subsequently suspended for 49 games. Then again, calling Young up to play for the Devil Rays is a form of punishment. Well on Monday, word came down that Jonny Gomes would need season-ending surgery and was placed on the disabled list. Young was scratched from the Durham Bulls lineup 15 minutes before the start of the game and told to pack his belongings and head to Chicago. Last night, Delmon Young made his major league and Tampa Bay Devil Rays debut. He wore #35, batted 8th and started in right field.
While many have waited for his debut, the debut itself was definitely eventful. The game started auspiciously for Young. With a lefty (Casey Fossum) on the mound, we honestly thought we wouldn’t even see Young in his uniform on the screen until he batted in the top of the second or third inning. Boy were we wrong and we are sure that Delmon wishes he hadn’t shown up til his first at bat either. With 2 on in the bottom of the first, Jermaine Dye hit an opposite field flyball that Young tracked to the wall. Unfortunately for Young, he appeared to misjudge his distance from the wall and instead of leaping for a catchable ball, he bumped into the wall and the ball bounced off the top of the fence for a 3-run home run.
Delmon Young stepped to the plate for the first time in the top of the 2nd with 2 outs and nobody on. Before the game, there were rumblings that the veteran players on the Rays roster would not be too kind to Delmon Young upon his arrival to the big leagues. Most rookies receive their fair share of hazing, but it has been speculated that the Rays’ veterans have not taken too kindly to some of Young’s comments and complaints to the press, especially coming from a player that hasn’t felt that he needed to pay the same dues as the rest of the players had to endure. Carl Crawford stated that it would probably be a good idea for Young to apologize to his new teammates. Well, apparently some other players in the league haven’t taken too kindly to the kid’s comments either. In his first plate appearance, Delmon Young was hit in the left elbow by the first pitch he saw from Freddy Garcia. Many, including Joe Maddon thought the pitch was intential (it was). Ultimately it was the best thing that could have happened to Young. It is easy to imagine that Young’s teammates, who before the game were cold towards him, all of the sudden would become protective of one of their own. We imagine that it must be a lot like having a little brother. In the top of the 4th, Young struck out swinging. Then in the top of the 6th Young may have solidified his relationship with his teammates a little further. With one out and Kevin Witt on first base, he took a Freddy Garcia hanging slider and rocketed a line drive over the left field wall for his first major league home run. He finished off his first night with a single to right field in the 8th to finish 2-3…In the bottom of the 8th inning, Joe Maddon, for one of the first times this season showed a bit of fire, and quite frankly, its about time. To show that Delmon Young is indeed a part of the team now, Rudy Lugo hit A. J. Pierzynski in what appeared to be payback for Young getting hit by a pitch earlier. Then again, if given the chance, even we would want to hit Pierzynski with a pitch. Wouldn’t everyone?
Delmon Young has arrived and the Delmon Young era has begun. His debut has been highly touted and people are watching closely (Our favorite headline is this one). Young was drafted in 2003 and we have heard all about his 5-tools. He was named by Baseball America as the minor league player of the year in 2005. He has been in the news and on the lips of Rays’ fans for quite sometime, which makes it hard to remember that Delmon is still only 20 years old. The team says they are going to use the last few weeks of 2006 to evaluate Young and his potential role with the club in 2007. With an immediate need in rightfield in 2007, it is hard to imagine that the front office will send him back to Durham next season. Therefore, the lineup for the 2007 Devil Rays and beyond, is starting to take shape in the last weeks of 2006. No longer do we see a lineup with Tomas Perez, Russell Branyan, Travis Lee and Damon Hollins. Instead we get to see potential and the future. Last night’s lineup very well could be the opening day lineup in 2007 except for DH, which is most likely to be Jonny Gomes as Greg Norton is free agent.