"I made a lapse in judgment," he told reporters Friday afternoon, "but I can tell you that I am not anti-Semitic."
On the day that Young returned from his suspension, he returned to the public eye to try to start the process of rebuilding his reputation. He spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since his arrest on charges of aggravated harassment. He spoke in the same monotone voice that has marked all of his interviews, but the look in the eyes, the pauses in his remarks, showed he grasped what has been said about him the last several days.
He wasn't in the starting lineup Friday night, but manager Jim Leyland said he'll probably start at designated hitter Saturday and Sunday, allowing him a day to get his timing back. The off-field process of getting his good name back in order will take longer, no matter what comes of his legal case.
Young faces a May 28 hearing in New York County Court in Manhattan, where the district attorney is investigating the alleged altercation outside the Tigers' team hotel for possible hate-crime charges based on alleged anti-Semitic language.
Young confirmed that he has started an alcohol counseling program through Major League Baseball and the Players Association. Young, meanwhile, is starting his effort to counter the image that has built in the days he was away from the team.
"I hope that going through the treatment program will get all the help I need to come back and be a great teammate and a successful baseball player in the Tigers organization," he said. "I'm sorry to all the fans, the Tigers, my teammates and everybody out there, but I just want to let everyone know that I am not an anti-Semitic. I wasn't raised that way. I came from a good family. We weren't taught any of that, especially growing up in a diverse area.
"I'll let my actions from here on out take care of itself and show you guys that the person that's being portrayed out there is not me."
At the heart of the incident isn't a hate problem, Young argued, but an alcohol problem.
"That incident was an alcohol-related incident," he said. "I know for a fact that I wouldn't be sitting here talking in front of you guys if I didn't have too much to drink, or if I just didn't go out and drink at all. I know that for a fact."
Young said he could not get into the details of that night in question, citing the ongoing case. He has had a week to watch the coverage of the event, including the first few days of it in New York. He wasn't proud of what he saw.
"That's the toughest part, especially just being branded anything racist or bigoted, especially when that's not me," he said. "I have a lot of diverse friends. I live in a diverse area. It's not me."
Through the Tigers, Young has reached out to the Jewish community in Detroit, beginning with a talk with Rabbi Josh Bennett, incoming president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis and a spiritual leader at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Mich.
"We had a great conversation," Young said. "It went really well, and I'm looking forward to doing stuff with them in the near future once we get back from the road trip."
At the same time, Young realizes that talking won't be enough, and that whatever he does won't instantly change how people feel about him. It certainly won't change the opinion of the allegations he faces.
"I hope after a while that they'll see that that person that's being portrayed wasn't who I am and that's not what I stand for," Young said. "It's just that I know it's going to take a while. You can't smooth things over and convince anyone after one speech, but just go out there and every day be a positive influence."
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski expressed his support for Young. He chose his words carefully in expressing his opinion of the situation, pending the legal process, but said he does not condone the behavior.
He made a point to say he does not believe Young is anti-Semitic. They reached out to the Jewish community to try to counter the image that has built.
"I think it's very important, because of the perception aspect of it," Dombrowski said. "Again, nobody really knows what happened. I will say from all of my experiences and exposure to Delmon Young, I have never felt that he is anti-Semitic. I have never had that feeling. If we felt that he was, or any of our players, it would not be tolerated. That would not be acceptable. And if we felt that he was, this situation would be handled completely differently."
As for the alcohol aspect of it, Dombrowski said, "You can never condone the abuse of alcohol."
Young's counseling, Dombrowski said, will be handled through Major League Baseball and the Players Association, who set it up. He does not know the details of it, and he said he'll be apprised on a "need-to-know basis."
Their role, mainly, is support."You're in a position where you don't condone certain behaviors. You let [the players] know that," Dombrowski said. "But you work with them and try to work through problems if you possibly can. They know they have your support, and that's what we'll continue to give to him as long as he continues to show the same type of behavior which I think he will, trying to help himself." The Tigers chose to cut Brad Eldred over Danny Worth, who was called up from Toledo when Young went on the restricted list last Saturday. The decision, Leyland said, came down in part to Worth's ability to play more positions. "With Danny, as opposed to a guy like Eldred, you're more versatile," Leyland said. "I can pinch-run him late in the game if I want to. I can do some things. In all fairness to Eldred, when we get Danny, we become a little more athletic -- not that Eldred isn't, because he runs really good for a big guy. But I'm talking about playing the field, maneuvering around late in the game and stuff."