Tigers to miss Delmon Young's hot bat

Reporting from Arlington, Texas -- At first glance, it would not seem as devastating as Texas losing Josh Hamilton for the American League Championship Series, or St. Louis losing Albert Pujols or Milwaukee losing Ryan Braun for the NLCS.

When comparing Delmon Young to baseball's elite No. 3 hitters, the Detroit Tigers left fielder, acquired in an Aug. 15 trade from the Minnesota Twins, simply doesn't measure up.

Young hit .268 with 12 home runs, 21 doubles and 64 runs batted in this season, numbers that pale in comparison to Hamilton (.298, 25 homers, 94 RBIs), Pujols (.299, 37 homers, 99 RBIs) and Braun (.332, 33 homers, 111 RBIs).

But Young got hot at the right time for the Tigers -- he hit .316 (six for 19) with three homers in Detroit's division series upset of the New York Yankees -- and a rib-cage strain that knocked him out of the ALCS could be a big blow to Detroit's World Series hopes.

"It obviously hurts because he's a right-handed hitter, and we're going to see three left-handed pitchers plus they have good left-handed stuff in the bullpen," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. "We just keep going on. That's what you have to do. That's why you play all your guys all year long, so they're ready for these situations.

"I think the public sometimes has a tendency to think that when you play your regulars every day, they win every game. It doesn't work like that. Does it hurt without Delmon? Sure. Are we going to miss him? Sure. But we'll go on."

Young, a former Camarillo High standout, hit a first-inning solo homer that helped propel the Tigers to a 3-2 series-clinching victory in Yankee Stadium Thursday night.

He hurt his rib cage on a seventh-inning swing. He didn't think the injury was serious, so he went to the outfield to warm up, but when he realized he couldn't throw, he came out of the game.

Young took batting practice Friday, and Leyland was optimistic he would play, saying, "He looks pretty good. I'd say he's probable, if this was the NFL."

But Young's side stiffened Friday night. Though an MRI test Saturday didn't reveal a significant problem, the Tigers bumped him from the ALCS roster and replaced him with infielder Danny Worth.

"I'm blaming all you guys for what happened," Leyland said in his pregame news conference Saturday. "You can write it down. He was taking BP and was swinging real good, and then he had to go to the media session and sit around. When he got out of the media session, it was hard to raise his arm. It stiffened up.

"I'm being facetious, obviously. But it did stiffen up on him. We had him checked out. The MRI doesn't show anything significant, but I learned a long time ago, when the word 'oblique' is mentioned, I get nervous. I've never seen an oblique [heal] in a day or two."

Leyland considered keeping Young on the ALCS roster in case he could play later in the series, but if Young aggravated the injury and had to be replaced for the remainder of the ALCS, he would not have been eligible for the World Series.

"If he would be ready and if we were fortunate enough to move on, he could be activated for the World Series," Leyland said. "I'm getting a lot of slack [for this decision] because people don't understand the rule."

Ryan Raburn, a right-handed-hitting utility player who was expected to play more in this series because Texas is scheduled to throw lefties in five of seven games, started in left field in Game 1 Saturday night.

Raburn had two hits in five division series at-bats after hitting .256 with 14 homers, 22 doubles and 49 RBIs in 121 games in the regular season.

To fill Young's spot in the order, Leyland moved Miguel Cabrera from cleanup to the third spot and moved each of the next five batters -- Victor Martinez, Magglio Oronez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Ramon Santiago -- up one spot.

"I'm almost certain Jim has someone to step up," Texas Manager Ron Washington said. "That's all you can do. I know you miss your guy, but that's why you have a team."



Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World