1. Rays

Delmon Young continues bullish approach with Detroit Tigers

Delmon Young’s path from Rays draft pick to ALCS MVP with the Tigers has hit bumps, but he remains an offensive weapon.
Delmon Young’s path from Rays draft pick to ALCS MVP with the Tigers has hit bumps, but he remains an offensive weapon.
Published Oct. 27, 2012

DETROIT — Delmon Young tends to find his way into the headlines.

He did so with his words several times after the Rays made him the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft and before reaching the majors in 2006, most prominently when he blasted the previous team administration for being cheap, inconsiderate and bad businessmen.

And with his actions, most famously in 2006 when he was suspended 50 games for throwing his bat at an umpire in a Triple-A game, and, most troubling, in April when he was arrested in New York on a misdemeanor hate-crime harassment charge after a drunken encounter in a hotel lobby that produced a Nov. 7 court date.

But this October, anyway, he has been making news on the field, leading the Tigers with a .317 postseason average and eight RBIs, and collecting the AL Championship Series MVP award along the way to his dream-fulfilling first World Series appearance.

"I'm just playing, trying to do whatever you can to win ball games," he said. "It's October, I'm not really worried about me."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Young, who hit .267 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs during the season, has shown, in his own way, how good and smart a hitter he is.

"Delmon kind of just beats to his own drum," Leyland said. "We have a very good relationship, but I kind of stay out of his way because he knows much more about hitting than I do, and he knows what pitchers are trying to do to him. And I respect that. … He has a real good plan about how to go about it."

Young, 27, faces an interesting juncture in his career. Having been traded twice (by the Rays to the Twins in November 2007 for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, then to the Tigers last August for middling prospects), he is headed to free agency limited primarily to DH duties and with only one 20-homer season on his resume. But, he is confident his best seasons are still to come.

Though he can come across as surly and standoffish, Young can also be funny. Asked about the ALCS non-rain rainout, he said, "I don't have tarot cards."

The Yankees coming back on them? "Things are going to happen; the other team wants to drive Mercedes Benzes and eat Morton's, too."

Series Game 2 starter Doug Fister being struck in the head by a line drive? "I felt sorry for the ball."

Really? "You know I'm a brilliant guy when I decide to talk," Young cracked.