Young returns from 50-game bat-throwing suspension

DURHAM, N.C. -- Delmon Young has finished his 50-game suspension for flinging a bat that hit an umpire in the chest, saying Monday he hopes to move beyond the embarrassing moment that was replayed on television broadcasts across the country.

"I learned a lesson as soon as I did it," Young said a few hours before his return to play for Triple-A Durham on Monday night. "What can you do about it? You've just got to live your life. I'm going to come out here and play baseball and have fun and try to move on with it. You can judge me how you want to judge me, but I'm going to come out and live my own life."

Young was 1-for-4 on Monday with an RBI single and a strikeout against Charlotte.

Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft and a top prospect of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was selected the 2005 minor-league player of the year by Baseball America. He was batting .329 with eight RBI in 21 games this season before his suspension. His older brother, Dmitri Young, plays for the Detroit Tigers.

The 20-year-old Young was suspended after taking a third strike on a pitch during a game in Pawtucket, R.I., in April. When Young delayed leaving the batter's box, the umpire ejected him. Young then flipped his bat underhand, hitting the umpire.

International League president Randy Mobley said he believed the 50-game suspension was the longest in the league's 123-year history.

The umpire wasn't injured. Young also agreed to perform 50 hours of community service, which he served working with handicapped and troubled children in Tampa and Durham.

Durham manager John Tamargo sounded eager to have Young back for Monday's doubleheader with Charlotte.

"He's going to play every day," Tamargo said. "He's definitely in Tampa Bay's future. We're just glad to have him back and give our offense a little bit of a punch, because he's a force in this league and he's going to be a force I believe in the major leagues someday."

Few seem to doubt Young's abilities, but there are questions about his attitude.

Before apologizing for throwing the bat, he told one reporter his microphone was too close and then told a TV reporter who went to attach a microphone to his gray T-shirt not to touch him. Later, when asked whether he had sought anger management counseling, he said he had relied on his "own support group." When asked who they were, he responded flatly, "My own support group that I need to know and not you."

"Unless you guys put on a uniform and get to a very competitive level, people will never understand what athletes and entertainers go through on an everyday basis," Young said.

It was Young's second run-in with an umpire in the past two seasons. While playing for Double-A Montgomery last year, Young was suspended for three games by the Southern League for bumping the chest of plate umpire Jeff Latter.

This season's suspension was the best-known in a line of recent headaches for the Bulls franchise.

Tamargo was suspended 10 games for bumping an umpire in late May.

On Friday, shortstop B.J. Upton -- the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft -- was charged with drunken driving, while outfielder Elijah Dukes was recently suspended indefinitely for disciplinary reasons, Devil Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said.