Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Delmon Young and spring optimism

Ah, spring training and optimism. You can't have one without the other.

Which doesn't mean the optimism is always unjustifiable. It does mean we are wise to think about it a bit before buying into it.

Today's happy-happy-joy-joy comes via Peter Gammons and his new part-time gig writing for

Down the road in Fort Myers, Fla., at Twins camp, (B.J.) Upton's former teammate and fellow victim of unlimited expectations, Delmon Young, is another changed face.

"When have you ever seen me smiling this much?" Young asked. Never. He looks 17 again. ...

This winter, Young worked hard on conditioning, as well as lifestyle. He's dropped more than 35 pounds, his face looks like that of a teenager, and he looks like a new player.

"I feel as if I'm a new player," said Young, who is recognized as highly intelligent by his teammates. "I think I'm finally where I thought I should be five years ago."

OK. Five years ago Young was 19 and winning the MVP award in the Double-A Southern League off a half season of play, which got him named Baseball America's minor league player of the year.

He has never really lived up to that promise, but the promise remains. I don't know if the weight loss is going to make him a better defensive outfielder, but it might. He had a strong second half last season — he hit .300 with a .502 slugging percentage after the All-Star break.

And he's only 24. Time is still on his side.

That said, a breakout season would be a lot more likely if he'd stop swinging at almost every first pitch

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