Phillies Ink Controversial Outfielder

Team signs Delmon Young, who has a history off-the-field & on-the-field problems, to compete in a crowded outfield

The Phillies search for a right-handed power bat with the ability to play some outfield ended Tuesday with a controversial choice.

The Phillies inked former American Leaguer Delmon Young to a guaranteed one-year, $750,000 contract. And, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sees the former designated hitter as possibly being the Phillies everyday right fielder.

"We’re gonna give him an opportunity to play right field, which I think he’s a lot more comfortable with," Amaro told reporters.

Young, 27, has never lived up to the expectations of being picked No. 1 overall by the Rays in 2003 but he has grown into a solid play on the field. He has averaged a .284/.317/.425  line with 16 homers, 73 runs and 89 RBIs over a 162-game average with the Rays, Twins & Tigers.

But, he has become as known for what he’s done away from the diamond.


He does come with some baggage, though, as he was suspended 50 games in 2006 as a minor leaguer for flinging his bat at an umpire. In April 2012, he was accused of shouting an anti-Semitic slur outside a New York hotel, an incident that led to him pleading guilty of aggravated harassment and a seven-game suspension from MLB.

Young, to his credit, addressed the controversy.

"I put myself in a bad situation but it was a onetime thing," Young told reporters. "I learned a lot from it."

Amaro says he thinks Young "made a mistake" during that New York incident that doesn't represent who the outfielder is as a person.

"(We) did a lot of due diligence on what kind of person he is… The conclusion that we came up with is that he made a mistake and that whatever was written about him in the past doesn’t really depict the kind of person he is. Obviously we want to have good character guys in our clubhouse and we think he’s going to be one."

He should fit in when it comes to a common trait amongst current Phillies, his lack of plate discipline. He walks once for every 4.3 strikeouts -- adding yet another seemingly impatient bat to a lineup that already gets on base too little.

Young is expected to compete with Laynce Nix, Dom Brown, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr. for playing time in the corner outfield spots.

"All those guys are going to be competing," Amaro said. "I view this as an addition of depth in our outfield."

Young's career .308/.333/.500 line off left-handed pitchers makes him a good possibility to star in a platoon role beside Brown or Nix. But, Amaro says he could play every day and that would leave Brown and Ruf battling for playing time in left field.

"We’re not going to name (Young) the starting right fielder for the Phillies but he will certainly have an opportunity to go and play there... He’ll have to prove to us that he can play defense enough to be able to play every day out there.

"At least offensively he’s a proven Major League contributor."

Mostly a designated hitter in 151 games with the Tigers last season (he only started 29 games in left field), Young's defense isn't his strong suit (career .976 fielding percentage). He looks more like an option in left field since he hasn't played right field since 2007 -- his second season in Tampa.

"As a younger player he was at least an average, probably a plus defender, in right field as he was coming through the minor leagues in the Tampa organization," Amaro said. "(He) always had a good arm… it is a low-risk, high-reward because the guy can hit."

Young said that playing a bum ankle, he had surgery to remove bone spurs in the offseason and might not be ready for the start of the season, prevented him from working out how he would like as he gained weight and played more DH. He says he has slimmed down and looks forward to returning to the field.

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