PORT CHARLOTTE -- To some, Luke Scott might be a walking contradiction. To others he is a person to walk away from.
He professes to love his fellow man, but owns a cache of guns and used to carry one in the clubhouse before they were banned.
He claims to be highly patriotic, but has berated President Barack Obama, claiming the president is not a U.S. citizen and blaming him for bringing moral decay to the country.
Scott has been called racist, but argues that is impossible because he is a person of God, who created diversity among men.
The only thing we know for certain about Luke Scott is that he is among the new Tampa Bay Rays players, coming over from the Baltimore Orioles.
Misunderstood? Unfairly chastised?
Those who know Scott say he is outspoken to the point of being outrageous and a lightning rod for controversy.
The native of Deland says his critics don't know him and don't know the good he has done, citing a program he is involved with that sends supplies, med
icine and baseball equipment to Venezuela.
"If there is a difference of opinion with somebody else, I am not going to judge them for that; unfortunately, that has not been reciprocal," Scott said. "I have been slandered because of all kinds of stuff, including a lot of things that I've said about the gun issue and our right to bear arms. There are people who don't share my beliefs, and that is fine. I don't hate them."
Scott's argument that Obama was not born in the United States got him labeled a racist more than anything else. He compounded the problem by blaming the president for what he calls the country's ills.
Scott won't talk about Obama anymore, but said he stands by what he has said, including an interview he did with the Answer Man of Yahoo Sports.
"Obama was not born here. That's my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go within 10 minutes to my file cabinet and pick up my real birth certificate. Obama does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for," he said in part.
Scott is vehemently opposed to gun control, arguing people need guns to protect themselves from the government and criminals, which he seems to put in the same bag.
"There is a reason our forefathers put that in the constitution and why it's the Second Amendment," Scott said. "Some people have a difference of opinion and slandered my name because of the issue. But that doesn't mean I am going to shy back and be intimidated by it. People lashed out at me and said I am a racist. But those who hang out with me know that I am not a racist."
Scott has been described as eccentric, immature and politically insensitive. One moment, he is like a kid at play, showing how happy he would be to hit in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. In another, he is on the verge of tears as he explains what he has done to help his fellow man.
"If you are a fastball hitter, there is no better place in the lineup. It's like opening up the gates and leading the lambs to the lions because you are going to eat, baah baah baah," he chants.
When asked how a hitter can go from hot to cold overnight, Scott gets philosophical.
"It's baseball. It's like a dog chasing his tail. You try to figure this game out. Good luck," Scott said. "You just never know in this game. Things turn on and off like that and you and never know why."
In his last three healthy seasons, Scott hit 75 homers. The Rays are hoping they can get 25 out of him this year. Maddon wants more versatility and showed his enthusiasm when the 6-foot, 205-pounder banged a liner to the opposite field in a recent game.
"He is a tough out, and I don't think he gets enough credit for that. He does a lot of things well and can help us in many ways," Maddon said.
Scott, who hopes to DH, play left field and fill in at first base, saw his season end prematurely last July with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. In 2001, he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
One of those injuries is difficult enough. Coming back from two is extremely difficult.
"Tommy John wasn't as hard as this one," Scott said. "The shoulder is a little more complicated, but I have had a lot of challenges in my life and my faith has gotten me through it. I could allow the negative to come in and get me down, but I try and look at things from the positive side."