International League president Randy Mobley handed down his verdict on Delmon Young on Tuesday afternoon, suspending the Durham slugger for 50 games as a result of his bat-throwing escapade last month in a game at Pawtucket.
The suspension, which is without pay and includes the 10 games he's already missed, is the longest ever in the International League. Young will be eligible to return to the Bulls for their June 19 home game against Charlotte.
As part of the suspension, Young has also agreed to do 50 hours of community service, working with the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League and the Miracle League of Golf Beaches in St. Petersburg, Fla. The DBYAL is an inner-city baseball program sponsored by the Bulls, while the Miracle League is a program for mentally and physically challenged youths between the ages of 3 and 19.
"I did a thorough examination of other incidents over the last several years in Minor League Baseball and in all sports, and quite honestly there weren't many other similar incidents out there," Mobley said. "So I tried to do what I said my goal was from the start, and that was to be fair and just. I thought that missing over a third of the season along with the significant financial penalty and then trying to find a positive aspect of it was fair. He'll be working with the youth in Durham and the Bay Area while suspended, so I thought I hit on the fair and just goal I set out to accomplish."
Young, who is considered Tampa Bay's top prospect and one of the premier prospects in the game, has been serving a suspension since throwing a bat at an umpire after being ejected for arguing balls and strikes in a game against Pawtucket on April 26. That Mobley could never know Young's true intent when he tossed the bat, combined with the youngster's obvious contrition and willingness to do community service, played a big part in his decision to limit the suspension to 50 games.
"I'd like to say that I'm sorry for this incident ever happening," Young said Tuesday afternoon at the club's Minor League complex in St. Petersburg. "It should never have come to this. I'd like to just get on with this and to let everyone know that I do regret the situation. He [Mobley] did his job and that was his job to make the suspension. You just have to let him do his job. Fifty is a fair amount and I'm going to serve it and then I'll be back on the ball field.
"I'm not really such a bad person. I may act up a little bit every once in a while, but I'm not really a bad person."
Because he was suspended for more than 10 days, Young has the right to appeal the suspension with the Commissioner of Baseball. In this instance, though, Mobley said he's been told that won't happen, that Young is well aware of the serious nature of the situation and is "willing to take his medicine."
"There was not any consideration to sitting him out the entire year," Mobley said. "Early on I settled on the fact that if I could have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was intent to hit the umpire with the bat, then I would have gone that route. But I didn't conclude that he intended to hit the umpire with the bat."
Young, 20, had taken a called third strike from Pawtucket's Jon Lester in the first inning of that April 26 contest and stood glaring at the umpire, though he didn't leave the batter's box. After taking several steps toward the dugout, he was ejected, prompting him to flip the bat underhanded at the umpire, who was hit in the chest. Mobley said the umpire's report of the incident indicated that Young said something that warranted ejection.
The incident wasn't the first time Young has had a run in with an umpire. He bumped an ump last year while playing for Montgomery of the Southern League and received a three-game suspension. He also threw a bat at a pitcher in another game after getting hit with a pitch.
Mobley said he was aware of Young's past and that his previous troubles played a role in his decision, though not a significant one. He added that taking anger-management classes were not a requirement of his fulfilling the suspension, but that he couldn't say if it was a subject that would be broached between Young, his agent and the Devil Rays.
Young indicated he doesn't have anger management issues, pointing out that he simply is competitive. This incident, he says, was just an example of not keeping his emotions in check. And, Tampa's executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman agreed with Young, saying he doesn't believe there is an anger management issue.
"I don't think he knows how to draw the line like some others do," Friedman said. "And it's something that he has to learn how to channel in the right way and get the most out of it because it can be a positive. He needs to learn how to handle success and failure in the right way.
"I think this is going to have some lingering effect with the umpires. And it's going to be something that he's definitely going to have to battle. And you hope with him treating them with the requisite respect, it slowly goes away over time. It's hard to say how long it will last but it will definitely be there in the near term."
Mobley, who has been dealing with this issue almost non-stop for the past two weeks is glad to have the whole process behind him and, like Young, is ready to move forward.
"While I wouldn't say all this has let a bad taste in my mouth, it has been difficult," Mobley said. "The parties involved, the Devil Rays, Delmon and his management team, haven't been difficult, though. So I wouldn't say it left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm just hopeful it will be a life-changing experience for him."
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. Bill Chastain also contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.