Baseball's top prospect, Delmon Young, returned to the field last night after serving a 50-game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire. In a slight bit of irony, Young was actually able to return one game early as the Durham Bulls concluded a previously rain-suspended game on Monday afternoon. In that game Young appeared and singled in his only at bat (does that mean his suspension was only 49 games?). In the regularly scheduled game, Young was in his usual right field position and his usual #3 spot in the lineup. He went 1-4 with a strikeout. His single in the 3rd inning drove in a run that tied the game 1-1.
Young did meet with reporters before the game a sat down for a one-on-one interview with Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz, that can be seen over at MILB.com. One problem with fans projecting minor league players and their future success is that 99% of what we know about them comes from box scores. This interview was one of the first times we had ever heard Young talk. We stood behind Young after the incident, but this interview changes our perception a bit.
One thing that comes across is just how young he still is. He just doesn't have that composure that you see during interviews with major league players. In the second question from Solondz, Young was asked how difficult the suspension was for him. Young does not even answer. He just shakes his head and rolls his hand as if to indicate to move on to the next question. The next question asked if Young learned anything from the suspension. Young responds by saying "That's the same question" and again rolls his hand to indicate to Solondz to move on to the next question.
During the interview you can see that he is nervous and very fidgety. He rarely makes eye contact with Solondz during the interview, constantly looking down or looking out to the field. Later on, Young was asked about his relationship with the manager and coaches and Young responds that he "keeps his distance" from the coaches. He also indicates that he has not spoken to the manager or coaches since the incident because he doesn't need to "socialize on past events". So far we are only about three minutes into the interview with seven minutes remaining, and we are already souring on Delmon Young very quickly.
Finally at the end of the interview, Solondz thanks Delmon for sitting down with him, and best we can tell Young does not respond at all, except to take off his mic and walk away. Solondz then can be seen looking towards his producers with a shrug of his shoulders and a very telling look on his face, that seems to display a bit of anger or annoyance.
According to reports, Young's attitude was much the same when he met with reporters on the field. He snapped at several reporters for asking questions they shouldn't ask and even for brushing his leg with a microphone chord. If there was any question before seeing this interview, there shouldn't be any now for Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Devil Rays front office or the fans...Delmon Young is not ready for the big leagues. We had hoped all along to see Delmon this fall in Tampa with a shot at making the team next Spring. That plan now looks to be at least a year away.
Delmon Young interview [MILB.com]
After Ban, a Prospect Is Hoping to Move On [New York Times]