The International League announced its suspension for Devil Rays outfielder Delmon Young on Tuesday, sidelineing him for 50 games–the longest penalty in league history. While IL president Randy Mobley wasn’t exactly swift in reaching his decision, his nearly two weeks of deliberating led him to the conclusion to send a message to the No. 1 prospect in baseball.
The suspension is retroactive to April 27, which means Young won’t be eligible to return to action until June 19. Baseball America’s 2005 Minor League Player of the Year and No. 1-rated prospect, he already had served 10 games of the suspension while waiting for the ruling to be handed down.
During an April 26 game at Pawtucket, Young was ejected after disputing a called third strike. After walking toward his dugout, he tossed a bat at the plate umpire, striking him in the chest. The IL suspended him indefinitely while mulling its ruling.
“As one might expect in this day and age of easy communication, I heard from lots of people from all across the country about how we would solve the ills of the world by how we dealt with Delmon Young. There were calls to suspend him for the year. That would have been overkill. A 50-game suspension in conjunction with the loss of pay is significant,” Mobley said.
Young also has agreed to perform a minimum of 50 hours of community service during his suspension, dividing his work between the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League and the Miracle League of Gulf Beaches. The Miracle League is part of a national organization which provides the opportunity for mentally and physically handicapped children to play baseball.
Mobley said Young’s attitude played a factor in keeping the suspension from being longer. He and the Devil Rays were enthusiastic about including some community service as part of the suspension–a first for the IL–and he expressed contrition from the beginning of the process.
“He demonstrated an attitude of regret from the very start,” Mobley said. “Had it been otherwise I suspect the whole process would have taken on a different tone, but that was not the case.”
Mobley also said that while the facts of the incident were clear, it was much more difficult to determine the intent. Mobley said he would have suspended Young for the entire season if it were determined he had intended to hit the umpire with the bat.
“I could not conclude definitely that he intended to hit the umpire with the bat,” Mobley said. “He expressed to me that he intended to throw his bat and then his helmet back to home plate to demonstrate his disagreement with the umpire. Obviously, something went drastically wrong with that plan.”
Calls to Young weren’t returned immediately. He hasn’t spoken publicly since the incident, but did issue a statement of apology through his agent. The Devil Rays released a statement saying they would support Mobley’s ruling and wouldn’t tolerate this type of conduct.
Young is expected to resume working out at the Devil Rays’ St. Petersburg complex later this week.