Rays Anatomy 'Intriguing'

And of course, there's Delmon Young, whose April bat toss was replayed on ESPN more than autistic basketball manager Jason McElwain's 3-point barrage. Young lost $145,000 in salary during his 50-game suspension and did 50 hours of community service, during which he conducted Little League clinics and played wheelchair baseball with disabled youngsters. He finally returns to action Monday night.

"Delmon is going to have to go out of his way to battle this for a long time," Friedman said. "We hope and expect he'll learn from it and be better for it. A lot of it is rhetoric right now, but he definitely seems to grasp the magnitude of it."

Things better improve soon, or the beleaguered Durham Bulls might have to call in the Duke athletic department security force for assistance.

Frustrating events The barrage of bad news is compounded by the Rays' failure to build a legitimate pitching rotation. Former first-round pick Dewon Brazelton has been a bust in Tampa and San Diego. And Rice products Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend, who could take some pressure off an emerging Scott Kazmir, are both trying to come back from arm surgery.

"I want us to play against the perceived best teams in all of baseball. I think as we do that, it's going to make us better quicker." -- Devil Rays manager Joe MaddonInjuries can't be helped. It's the extraneous stuff that's giving the Rays a case of transgression fatigue. "It's a little bit frustrating," manager Joe Maddon said Friday after the Upton incident. "But these are young men. I wasn't nearly a perfect soldier at that point in my development as a human, either.

"We support Delmon. We support B.J. We support Elijah. These three guys are off-the-chart good baseball players, and I think they're good people too. When a young man makes a mistake, it's our job to make sure it doesn't happen again. If it becomes a persistent problem, then obviously something may have to be done about it. But I'm OK with second chances. I think everybody deserves a second chance."

Maddon, a former Lafayette University economics major and Luciano Pavarotti fan, is more suited to the building mode than Lou Piniella, whose tenure in Tampa tested his natural impulse to yank bases from their moorings. Maddon delivers his critiques in even-tempered, constructive tones, and he's as open-minded as they get. Twice this year he's stationed four players in the outfield and his second baseman in short right field to defense David Ortiz and Ryan Howard.

Just make sure to bring your dictionary. So far this season, Maddon has used the word "transmogrify" (to change the appearance of) to describe Toronto's Rogers Centre with the roof open and closed; "anamorphic" on the lack of roles in the Rays' bullpen; and "ameliorate" in regard to Baldelli's efforts to come back from a leg injury.

Maddon even employed "Meat Loaf" as a verb.

"Whenever you Meat Loaf the world champs, it's not a bad thing," he said after the Devil Rays took two of three from the White Sox. As in the old song, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."

"He's a very special person," Lugo said. "He communicates with the players very well and lets you be who you are. He talks when he needs to talk and shuts up when he needs to shut up. That's important."

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