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Tom Verducci's View
Tom Verducci
May 08, 2006
PROBLEM CHILD
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May 08, 2006

Tom Verducci's View

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PROBLEM CHILD

Devil Rays officials had been privately worried in recent months that top outfield prospect Delmon Young (right) was developing a poor attitude. Young, 20, who was suspended three games for bumping an umpire in Double A last year and was upset about not making the major league roster this spring, confirmed those fears last week by throwing a bat at a minor league replacement ump after a disputed third-strike call, hitting him in the chest.

Young, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, who was batting .329 for Triple A Durham, was suspended indefinitely by the International League, which will soon determine the penalty's length. A minimum of 60 games seems appropriate, given the apparent willfulness of Young's actions. He threw the bat after he was ejected for arguing, as he was walking toward the dugout.

The disgraceful episode apparently wasn't so much as a wake-up call for Young. Instead of giving an immediate, on-camera apology that night, he hid behind a prepared statement the next day. Quick accountability would have been a good place for Young to start rebuilding his image.

CONTACT CLUB

With his 400th career home run last week, Padres catcher Mike Piazza (left) joined an exclusive club. Sure, 40 others have hit 400 homers, but far fewer players--and none in 30 years--have done so with Piazza's ability to put the ball in play and get hits. Only six players had hit 400 homers with a .300 career batting average without striking out 100 times in a season before Piazza did it: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron.

THE RUNDOWN

?Despite a 4-for-5 game on Sunday, Braves second-year outfielder Jeff Francoeur (right) was hitting .216 at week's end with no walks in 100 plate appearances and no ability to hit when he got deep into the count, a critical failure. Francoeur was batting .184 in at bats when he didn't hit the first pitch and an abysmal .029 (1 for 34) in two-strike counts.

?The Tigers, 16-9 at week's end, are a bona fide contender--for now. Says one AL G.M., "They're legit. Their biggest problem is they're counting on guys who have a history of breaking down, like [Magglio] Ordo´┐Żez, [Carlos] Guillen and [Pudge] Rodriguez. We'll see if they hold up."

?How badly have first baseman Casey Kotchman and catcher Jeff Mathis struggled for the Angels? Los Angeles ranked 29th and 30th in hitting at those two positions through Sunday (.190 and .160, respectively). Says one AL scout, "The most overrated young players I've seen this year are [Mariners centerfielder] Jeremy Reed [.188] and Jeff Mathis."

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