Notes: Young eager to play every day
Rookie outfielder wants to stay healthy, play at least 150 games
ST. PETERSBURG -- Delmon Young, the preseason favorite for American League Rookie of the Year honors, is looking forward to 2007, but his only goal is to be on the field.
"I just want to play at least 150 games," Young said. "Stay healthy, just be out there every day. I'm not really worried about numbers, I just want to stay on the field and get as many victories on the board as we can and be competitive all year."
Young, who hit .317 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 30 games for the Rays in 2006, believes his experience from last year will help his all-around game.
"I got to see what it was actually like to play at the big-league level instead of just watching," Young said. "I just have to learn how to keep my body in shape, so I can go out there every day. Make simple game adjustments that go with the opposing scouting reports."
Young is happy to have his indoctrination to the Major Leagues under his belt.
"Yeah, so you can at least get some experience and see how everything is going to go," Young said. "I didn't know how the road trips worked, things like that."
Young said his time in the Major Leagues "went by really quick" last year.
"I probably had a little too much fun enjoying myself, just getting called up and everything," Young said. "It just went by really fast. Probably, if I wasn't having such a good time, it would have gone by a lot slower. But I had a good time with the team and everything."
And the most fun he had?
"Playing every day," Young said. "It's a dream, what I'd been thinking about since I was about 5 or 6 years old."
Dukes troubles in the past: Elijah Dukes, who had an offseason that saw him experience an arrest for marijuana possession in January, said he doesn't carry over the past.
"That's the way I always do things, put things in the past," Dukes said. "I never dwell on stuff. I overcame a lot of stuff growing up. So when things happen, I move forward. That's all I can do is move forward. Just come out here and play baseball."
Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays want to keep things positive and moving forward for Dukes.
"He's a young man with outrageous potential," Maddon said. "I think it's all about today. You can't get yesterday back. But you can learn from it."
Dukes said the Rays staying behind him means a lot to him.
"Since I've been here, they've had my back 110 percent," Dukes said. "And you can't say that for most organizations. They have stuck by me, and I'm going to stick by them regardless of the outcome of anything. Just the way they treat me it feels good, and I'd rather not go anywhere else."
This and that: Carl Crawford had on wrist sleeves to help combat any wrist pain he might incur while swinging the bat. The Rays' left fielder has had trouble with his wrists in the past and plans to wear the sleeves throughout the season. The wrists "feel good," Crawford said. "But I have a tendency to overwork sometimes. So I'll just try not to overdo it."
At least five pitchers will be competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring. Maddon said the situation might bring about some extra "B" games to make sure all the candidates get to work enough innings.
Evan Longoria, the Rays' top pick -- and third overall -- in last June's First-Year Player Draft is in camp, but don't read too much into the chances the third baseman has to make the team. "We kind of have a never-say-never attitude around here because each specific player is different, but I'd say it's highly unlikely," said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. "He came into our organization last year and had a lot of success, performed extremely well. He's someone we're very happy to have in the organization, but we look at this as a marathon, not a sprint."
Scott Kazmir and Casey Fossum each threw well in their bullpen sessions Monday. "Kaz looked really good," Maddon said. "Same with Casey, saw a couple of breaking balls."
Dan Miceli is sporting a svelte figure this spring as he should, since the right-handed reliever says he lost 30 pounds in the offseason by limiting his carbs.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.