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Young rewarded for fast progress

Delmon Young made it to Tropicana Field on Tuesday, though the promising prospect was wearing dress clothes.

Based on how he did in his first minor-league season, it may not be long until the 19-year-old is back in a uniform and spikes.

"I want to get here," Young said. "It's just my timetable is whenever (the organization) feels I'm ready to hold my own in the big leagues, they'll call me up. I just have to stay consistent down in the minor leagues so hopefully I can get here someday."

Young was consistent and productive at Class A Charleston (S.C.), hitting .322 (on a league-high 164 hits) with 25 homers and 115 RBIs in 131 games, and Tuesday he was named the Rays' minor-league Player of the Year.

"He improved in all areas of the game," said Cam Bonifay, director of player development and scouting. "He just needs games and at-bats at a higher level of competition."

Reliever Chad Orvella, who worked his way from Charleston to Triple-A Durham, was named the Pitcher of the Year after going 1-1 with 12 saves and a 1.71 ERA. In 73 innings, he struck out 116 while walking only 10.

The Rays also honored the top player and pitcher for each minor-league team: rookie-league Princeton (W. Va.), Ryan Royster and Jacob McGee; short-season A Hudson Valley, John Jaso and Andy Sonnanstine; Charleston, Wes Bankston and Tony Peguero; advanced A Bakersfield (Calif.), Gabriel Martinez and Jason Hammel; Double-A Montgomery, Fernando Cortez and Chris Seddon; Triple-A Durham, Matt Diaz and Franklin Nunez.

BALDELLI OUT: Rocco Baldelli is likely to miss the next three games to attend to a family matter. He is expected to rejoin the team Friday.

ON THE JOB: Rookie pitcher John Webb rejoined the Rays a day after the funeral for his 18-year-old brother, James, who died last week of cancer.

Webb said he wanted to come back to the team and get right back to work, much like he did after his father died of a heart attack in 2001. Webb was told of his brother's death after the team arrived in New York on Sept. 22 but didn't tell the coaches because he wanted to pitch the next day.

"What I've done best so far is overcome adversity," he said. "If I got the chance to throw that day, I wanted that chance. That's what my brother would have wanted, and that's what I wanted to do."

With that motivation, Webb pitched extremely well, shutting out the Yankees for four innings. "Before every inning, I just told him, "I love you, man,' " Webb said. "I pitched that game like I should pitch the rest of my life, like every pitch is my last. I was really focused, really determined."

QUESTIONABLE INTENTIONS: A night's sleep didn't change manager Lou Piniella's opinion on the umpires' decision to eject Scott Kazmir Monday after he hit two Boston batters.

"I think the umpires just blew the call," he said. "After somebody's warned, you're not going to be hard-headed enough or stupid enough to go hit the next hitter intentionally."

Crew chief Gerry Davis said the umpires felt Kazmir hit the Red Sox intentionally. "Like they know," Piniella said. "I don't think they'd bet their life savings on it, would they?"

MISCELLANY: The Rays have hit a major league-high 93 batters, two off the major-league record they set last season. Todd Kalas is filling in on the TV broadcasts for Dewayne Staats, who is attending to a family matter. Tonight is the Seventh Annual Shirts Off Our Back promotion, where fans can buy $1 tickets for the chance to win the jerseys worn by players and coaches. It is also Fan Appreciation Day, rescheduled from Sunday. Upper deck tickets for Thursday's doubleheader are $5. Brook Fordyce hit his first homer since May 30.

_ MARC TOPKIN, Times staff writer


PITCHERS: Red Sox _ RHP Pedro Martinez (16-8, 3.78); Rays _ RHP Doug Waechter (4-7, 6.06) or RHP John Webb (0-0, 6.75).

NOTES: Martinez has been the Rays' daddy, posting an 11-3 record and 1.72 ERA in 19 starts. They beat him last time in Boston, however. The Rays have not officially announced a starter, but it is expected to be one of the two rookie right-handers. Waechter lasted one-plus inning in his last start Wednesday; Webb pitched four solid relief innings Thursday.


Catcher Brook Fordyce was relieved to find out Tuesday that his waterfront home on Hutchinson Island, near Stuart, didn't have much damage from Hurricane Jeanne. "The house made out all right and the yard and seawall had some damage, but my fishing boat is in my neighbor's yard. It's sitting up on some mangroves, and he told me he's going to charge me dock fees."