Twins pleased with Young's maturation

FORT MYERS — Delmon Young has grown up a bit, and he'd like to grow into his new role as the Twins' everyday leftfielder.

"Last year, my mom died," Young said. "Baseball became a way to get away from everything."

Bonnie Young died in May after a three-month battle with liver and pancreatic cancer.

"In the offseason, I went through the grieving process," Young said. "You can't really do that during the season when you're expected to go out there and perform. You want to win games and make a living, too."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Young has matured in many ways since the Twins acquired him in a 2007 trade that brought shortstop Jason Bartlett and right-hander Matt Garza to the Rays.

"His job was baseball, and he had to be away," Gardenhire said of early last season, when Bonnie Young fell ill. "The only time he got to talk to her was on the phone. He went through an awful lot with that. You know what, he came back from that, and he worked really hard in the second half. He has grown as a person, and he has grown as a player. He has become a fantastic teammate. He has worked really hard this winter to come in here in shape and ready to go.

"I'm proud of him. I'm happy for him, and I'm proud of him."

Last year at this time, Gardenhire was juggling outfielders Young, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gomez to get them regular playing time in the three outfield slots.

This year, Gardenhire has given Young the leftfield slot.

"When you're platooning, it's hard to keep a rhythm, not knowing when you're going to be in there," said Young, 24. "But it's a great situation now. We're all looking forward to playing in it."

ON THE WAGON: Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera said he's done drinking alcohol. And he's not an alcoholic.

"You guys write in the paper 'alcoholic,' that's not right," the first baseman said. "I don't know how to explain, but it's not an alcohol problem."

Cabrera, 26, who was arrested late last season after a drunken fight with his wife, spent much of the winter undergoing counseling. He said he has quit drinking and doesn't miss it.

BAT BAN: Many maple bats will be banned in the minors this season, part of Major League Baseball's push to stop shattered shards from flying dangerously through the air. New regulations will prohibit bats made from ultra-light maple. The low-density wood often is found in bats with big barrels and thin handles, creating a whiplike action when swung.

KOUFAX IN CAMP: Hall of Fame left-hander Sandy Koufax will make an appearance at Dodgers spring training in Glendale, Ariz., this week as a guest instructor. Koufax, who has made few public appearances since his retirement in 1966, was the headline guest Sunday at a fundraiser in Los Angeles for manager Joe Torre's personal charity.

BRAVES: Right-hander Jair Jurrjens took another positive step, completing a short mound session without feeling any discomfort in his right shoulder.

METS: Shortstop Jose Reyes hit a two-run triple on the first pitch he saw in his first gamelike setting since he was sidelined for most of last season by an injured right leg. Left-handed reliever Jonathon Niese, who tore his right hamstring last year, struck out the side in the first and worked around a one-out walk during a scoreless second.

RANGERS: Outfielder Josh Hamilton, a former Rays prospect, was scratched from the team's first intrasquad game with a bruised left shoulder.

Twins pleased with Young's maturation 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 10:51pm]

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