Delmon Young perhaps ready to break free from DL stints, slow start
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After going 3-for-4 with two scalding doubles, a single and an RBI on Thursday night in his first game back from a two-week disabled list stint, Minnesota Twins outfielder Delmon Young was asked whether he had been taking any swings during the All-Star break to stay sharp.
After all, even though Young went through a week-long Triple-A rehab stint, he had not faced major league pitching since turning his ankle on June 25 in Milwaukee.
"I went on vacation," Young said with a grin after the game. "I took three days off. This was my first swing since Sunday. I'm going to enjoy me an All-Star break."
Young's three-hit barrage was just his third such game of the year after tallying 17 three-hit performances in 2010. And per Baseball-Reference.com, Young's two doubles were just the third and fourth extra-base hits he has pulled to straight left field all season.
A notoriously slow starter, Young owns a .247/.288/.342 batting line in 406 career April plate appearances, and his May line isn't much better at .255/.308/.366. Even during his breakout 2010 campaign, Young hit just .222/.292/.381 in April before going on a three-month tear that ultimately landed him a few AL MVP votes.
This season's start has been no different, as Young came into the second half hitting just .256/.281/.324 with only two home runs, eight doubles and 20 RBIs in an injury-plagued campaign that has seen him miss 33 games due to sore ribs and a sprained ankle.
With Young posting career numbers in 2010 -- .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers, 46 doubles and 112 RBIs -- the Twins front office has been disappointed in his drop-off in production, which, in fairness, has been compounded by the injuries.
"Yeah, this (was) my first two times on the DL is this year. It sucks," Young said.
"Missing time when you have to go down to the minor leagues and rehab your way back, and then trying to come back and trying to do things. It's my first time ever having to do this, and it's not something I wish upon anyone."
Manager Ron Gardenhire pointed out before Thursday's game that Young usually needs between 100 and 150 at-bats to start finding a groove in any given season, and "That's kind of why we gave him a week down there (at Triple-A). I wanted him to get somewhere between 30 and 40 at-bats. ...
"He's had (the at-bats), so let's see you swing."
Injuries and a shaky bullpen top the list of reasons why the Twins dug themselves a 17-37 hole to start the season, but they've clawed back to within six games of .500 without offensive surges from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Young.
Maybe Thursday's 3-for-4 performance was a sign of things to come for the latter.
"Yeah, that was some really nice swings, driving the ball," Gardenhire said. "They made some mistakes on him and he banged them -- put it out there pretty good. Fun to see ... Hopefully he'll be going for us."