07.29.06

Devil Rays’ Player Development Continues The Summer Of Damage Control

Posted in Baseball at 12:37 pm by

Having spent the better part of Friday in airports and hotels, I’m not quite sure how I managed to miss the following article by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, but if you enjoy following the career trajectory of Devil Rays prospects BJ Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, it was a doozy.

Devil Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, who called Upton two weeks ago and told him switching to third base could mean a quick call-up to the big leagues, isn’t tipping his hand. He is listening to trade offers for shortstop Julio Lugo and third baseman Ty Wigginton. So far, no trades.

No trades means no call-ups.

“I don’t know what they’re waiting for,” Young (above) says. “They’re what, 30 games (actually 20) out of first place? They think we’re going to mess up their clubhouse chemistry. B.J. should be up there. What are they waiting for? They always have excuses.”

Dukes is staring disgustedly at his baseball jersey while talking. It has dark stains around the collar. His pants have tears by both knees.

If this were the big leagues, the uniform would be in the garbage.

But this is Durham.

“In the big leagues, you throw your uniform on the ground, and it’s washed and hung up nicely in your locker,” Dukes says. “Here you do that, you come back the next day and find it still on the floor. Those guys up there (in the big leagues) shower in Evian. Here, we use sewer water.”

The Tampa Tribune’s Carter Gaddis collected the requisite outraged responses from the parent club.

“It’s pretty clear how they feel,” Andrew Friedman said. “I think it shows a lot of disrespect toward the game and the achievement of becoming a major-league player. The whole article is something we take great exception to.”

“I don’t know what qualifies people, at any age, to disrespect anybody in the manner that that article indicated to me,” Joe Maddon said. “It speaks to disrespect, and it speaks to the sense of entitlement that the athletes seem to have today and I totally disagree with.”

Rays veteran Ty Wigginton, when informed of Dukes’ remark about the Evian showers in the majors, begged to differ.

“Actually, we get individual scrubs from the trainers,” Wigginton said. “I go back there and I sit in a big Jacuzzi and [trainers Paul] Harker and Ronnie Porterfield give me a sponge bath.”

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