FORT MYERS, FLA. - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as they were known during a first decade of futile existence, took Elijah Dukes in the third round of the 2002 draft. He was an outfielder from Homestead, Fla., a tough town between Miami and the Florida Keys.
Dukes last played in the major leagues for Washington in 2009. He has not been able to find a job in organized baseball since then. The news he made recently was being charged with slapping an ex-girlfriend.
In a way, it's unfortunate that the Twins did not use a high draft choice on Dukes, for dealing with a reprobate such as him might have given this club a proper appreciation for the difference between a bad guy and an annoyance.
The Twins traded pitcher Matt Garza after the 2007 season. They did this even though he had by far the best right-handed arm among the team's starters - an outstanding fastball and wicked breaking pitch.
In other words, Garza was the one right-handed starter that didn't pitch to contact. The Twins still haven't found a replacement for him as they enter a fourth season without Garza, a former No. 1 draft choice.
The Twins also had to give up a capable shortstop in Jason Bartlett, in order to move Garza to Tampa Bay for outfielder Delmon Young and journeyman infielder Brendan Harris.
The Twins needed a right-handed bat (Young's) to replace the departed Torii Hunter, but there's no way this club - with such an appreciation for pitching - would have moved Garza if there wasn't a perception in the organization that he had an erratic personality.
Strangely, the Rays wanted to trade Young for the same reason: They felt that his dour personality made him more trouble than he was worth.
The Twin Cities media has seen plenty of that personality over the previous three seasons. Young had manager Ron Gardenhire and his field staff mystified by his unwillingness to communicate in 2008 - and well into 2009.
The idea that he still would be around come the spring of 2011 seemed remote. Yet, the Twins had given up so much to get Delmon, they couldn't let him go without a reasonable ransom in return.
Then, he showed up in 2010 spring training in great shape, had a very productive season and seemed to build a relationship with Gardenhire that was beneficial to both.
On Tuesday, when Young and Justin Morneau both made their spring debuts in a B game, Gardenhire and Young were talking it up and laughing outside the dugout after Delmon's first two at-bats.
That's just a small sign of camaraderie - and also something there's no chance you would've seen in Twins' camp a couple of years ago.
Young remains less than a back-slapper around the media. For instance:
Tom Powers, sports columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, was trying to loosen up Delmon with some casual clubhouse conversation earlier this week.
"When you're in L.A. in the winter, do you ever go to a Lakers' game?'' Powers asked.
Young shook his head in disgust and said: "Why would I go to a Lakers' game when I have a television?''
This was worth a chuckle in Powers' re-telling. In truth, most of the folks covering the Twins get a smile out of Young's contrariness these days rather than taking it personally.
Powers' anecdote did remind me of an all-timer from way back, when the California Angels had in Alex Johnson a right-handed hitter of immense talent and a loathing for people not in uniform (and some in uniform) that became legendary.
Dan Stoneking was among the pro sports reporters for the Minneapolis Star. His pal Bob Fowler was covering the Twins for the St. Paul newspapers. Stoneking was on a trip to Anaheim and was interested in doing a story on Johnson - a player that he had not yet met.
So, he asked Fowler if he had interviewed Johnson, and as a pal in the newspaper business would do, Bob said: "Great guy, Stoney. I'd walk right over and talk to him.''
They got to the ballpark, and there was Johnson standing near the batting cage. Stoney walked over, gave the traditional greeting, "Alex, I'm Dan Stoneking from the Minneapolis Star,'' and stuck out his right hand for a shake.
Johnson starred at Stoney's hand as if there were used chewing tobacco in it. Stoneking withdrew the hand and said: "Well, Alex, do you feel like you can win the batting title?''
Johnson turned, glared at Stoneking and said: "I'll win the bleepin' batting title if I want to, d---head.' ''
Love that story.
As for the Twins and knowing the difference between an annoyance and a bad guy, you get the feeling that's being played out again this spring.
There's an impression that Kevin Slowey is too much of a know-it-all for the tastes of many in the organization. And Gardenhire basically confirmed that personality can be factor when he declared Nick Blackburn to be "one of my guys'' and a member of his 2011 rotation.
It's ridiculous, of course, to determine the pieces for an iffy starting rotation based on personality, but when you get screwed-up on the definition of a pain in the rear end when you haven't had an Elijah Dukes to suffer with.