Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young apologized to his team and fans Friday, just before getting arraigned on a hate crime harassment charge for a fight at his hotel during which police say he yelled anti-Semitic epithets.
Young posted a $5,000 US bond at a brief hearing in Manhattan court and was released less than an hour before the Tigers' game against the Yankees. He faces a misdemeanour aggravated harassment charge that entails targeting someone for his or her religious beliefs. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.
Wearing a dark suit, Young said nothing during his arraignment.
In a statement, however, Young said: "I sincerely regret what happened last night." He apologized to the Tigers owners and organization, his teammates, family and Detroit fans.
"I take this matter very seriously and assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player," Young said.
General manager Dave Dombrowski did not discuss Young's arrest with reporters. Tigers spokesman Brian Britten said after the team's 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees that Dombrowski was still working out several issues relating to Young.
Manager Jim Leyland snapped at a reporter who asked about Young after Detroit's fifth straight loss.
"Get lost, get lost, get lost," Leyland said. "Do yourself a favour and get lost."
Young's jersey hung in his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium and his helmet was in the dugout rack Friday afternoon, but he was not at the ballpark.
"My lineup's up," Leyland said tersely when asked if he had to rethink his batting order for the game.
The Tigers arrived in New York at 10:30 p.m. Thursday after their plane sat on the tarmac for two hours, 15 minutes in Detroit, according to Leyland.
Around 2:30 a.m., Young was standing outside of the Hilton New York. Nearby, a group of about four Chicago tourists staying at the hotel were approached by a panhandler wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David around his neck, according to police. Afterward, as the group walked up to the hotel doors, Young started yelling anti-Semitic epithets, police said.
It was not clear whom Young was yelling at, but he got into a tussle with the Chicago group, and a 32-year-old man was tackled and sustained scratches to his elbows, according to police and the criminal complaint.
Both Young and the group went inside the hotel, and at some point, police were called, and Young was arrested, police said. Young was first taken to a hospital because he was believed to be intoxicated, police said.
Defence attorney Daniel J. Ollen said accounts of the fight have varied. He said there was video, which he hasn't seen, that showed someone in the other group of people said something to Young before the scuffle.
"He clearly reacted to something that was said to him," Ollen said.
Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice-president for baseball operations, visited with Leyland during batting practice but would not speak to the matter.
"We can't comment because we're still gathering information," Torre said.
Young went 0 for 3 with a walk in a 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. He is hitting .242 with one home run and five RBIs, is signed to a one-year contract for $6,725,000 and can become a free agent after the season.
In 2006, Young was suspended for 50 games without pay by the International League for throwing a bat that hit a replacement umpire in the chest. Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft, was ejected in the first inning after taking a called third strike. He lingered in the batter's box, walked away and then threw his bat end over end at the umpire, hitting him in the chest.
The Tigers called up Brad Eldred from AAA Toledo after Detroit's sixth loss in seven games on Thursday. Eldred was hitting .388 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in 20 games for Toledo and Leyland indicated that he would see significant time as the designated hitter.
This isn't the first time a Tigers player has run into trouble with the law. Miguel Cabrera was arrested just before the start of spring training in February 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving. In 2009, Cabrera was picked up by police at his home in Michigan after a fight with his wife — with a blood alcohol level three times above Michigan's legal limit. No charges were filed. And catcher Gerald Laird was arrested following a brawl at a Phoenix Suns game in December 2009.
Young is due back in court May 29.