Delmon Young: Worth the weight

Categories: Sports

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Image courtesy of Keith Allison
The surging left fielder is still the youngest at his position in all of baseball.
As the Twins continue through a ratty June and attempt to define their relevancy amidst the American League's top clubs -- left fielder Delmon Young seems to have his own game all figured out.

Despite being in his fifth (fourth full) MLB season, it's somewhat head-scratching to comprehend that Young continues to embody his surname: at just 24-years-old, he remains both the youngest Twins regular and the most youthful everyday left fielder in all of baseball.

Oft-maligned for outfield clumsiness and lack of patience at the dish, a year ago today Delmon Young was clipping at just .256, mourning the sorrowful May loss of his mother, and appearing every bit a disappointing footnote in the trade that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to Tampa.

Yet after an '09 July in which he hit .314 and a suburb September that he crushed with a .340 average and four home runs, Young reported to Spring Training having shed a well-pubbed 30 pounds of his former self.  As evidenced by his first-half numbers, less of Delmon is more.  Through 70 games, Young is having his finest season to date with career-high 70-game numbers in batting (.293), home runs (tied at 8), doubles (19), and RBI (50).  The afore-noted plate acumen can be evidenced via his .330 On Base Percentage (also a career-high through 70) and his 15 walks.  Through all of last season, Young worked only 12 walks for the entire year -- a sorry mark that served as the fewest in baseball for any player with 400 plate appearances.

Although Young told the AP back in early May that part of the weight loss was due to eating one less meal a day, during BP prior to Monday's set with Detroit, Young noted his in-season regime hasn't altered.

"I haven't changed anything and during the season I don't care about what I weigh . . . It's the same diet pretty much, and I don't do any cardio," said the more diminutive Delmon prior to a two hit effort.

However -- as Young intimated in a March interview with MLB.com -- the club's move to

Delmon Young 2.jpg
Image courtesy of Keith Allison
Target Field has presented a playing surface posing less daily stress to a player's body, and more refined amenities to stay fit on the homefront.  

"We didn't have anything in the Dome to exercise with, and the facilities are a lot better here [Target Field], so you can really get a real workout in instead of waiting for a road trip," Young, who's batting .330 at home, said after taking his cuts on Monday.  "The [Dome] turf hurt your body a little bit, your ankles, legs and back.  So you didn't really want to do anything when you're over there because you could get a little sore from running around on the turf all day.  Standing out there for batting practice everyday and then playing a game on it is not the best thing for your body."

While the Twins erratic starting pitching offerings continue to spur buzz about acquiring Cliff Lee from Seattle, the club's injury and offensive woes have compounded their issues.  Soon to exit their first losing June since 2003, the Twins are sporting five lineup regulars (including Joe Mauer at 25 points below his career batting clip) hitting worse than their lifetime averages.

But among the other four, there is Young, who is proving a beacon in a season full of conjecture and cloudy horizons. 

Next week, Delmon will gather his 2,000th official MLB at-bat, and will do so with a lifetime average just a few shades below .300.  The surname will of course never change, but the kid has become a man at Target Field, and is now proving with aplomb why he was the league's No. 1 draft choice as a boy seven years ago.

 


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