To Be Young Again

As I sat and watched the Colorado Rockies dismantle the Arizona Diamondbacks in the finale of the series at Coors Field I was grasping to find a positive spin I could write about. It would be so easy to write about the Diamondbacks pitching woes especially the Diamondbacks debut of Daniel Cabrera who gave up five earned runs on two hits, two walks, and a hit batsman without recording a single out.

It would likewise have been easy to write an entire column on the Diamondbacks struggles to score runs or the dismal way they hit with runners in scoring position during this road trip. The problem with each of those scenarios is that they really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.

I have resigned myself to the knowledge that 2009 has been a lost season for the Diamondbacks. It began on Opening Day when staff ace Brandon Webb left the game early with arm problems that would result ultimately in season-ending shoulder surgery. The trainer’s room in the Diamondbacks clubhouse has been so busy they needed to install one of those number machines that you see at the deli so you knew how much longer before it would be your turn for service.

Rather than dwell on the negative I attempted to find a bright spot to try and hang my hand on. Perhaps by focusing on the positive I could keep my sanity intact for the remaining month of the season and go into the off-season feeling better about the team and their chances next season.

Looking at today’s game there were but two bright spots that you could come away with feeling good about. Mark Reynolds continued to chase St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols by hitting his 41st home run of the season. Despite his torrid pace to break his own strikeout record Reynolds is having a good season and providing many to believe the Diamondbacks may have finally found their traditional number-four hitter in the line-up. Granted we would all love to see Reynolds cut down on the strikeouts but his power numbers are definitely something to cheer about.

Center fielder Chris Young has had perhaps the worst season of any of the Diamondbacks. He has been on what seemed to be a never-ending slump that has lasted all season. With the exception of a couple of weeks in June, Young has struggled mightily this season. His batting average has hovered around .195 all season leading the Diamondbacks to demote the promising outfielder to Reno.

While in Triple-A Young made the most of his time hitting .370 during that time. The Diamondbacks recalled Young and everyone hoped he would finally have some success.

During the first home stand after his return Young hit the ball hard but came away empty handed. Despite his lack of success his approach seemed different. Instead of hitting pop-ups and fly balls; Young was getting the barrel of the bat on the ball it just wasn’t falling for hits.

When the Diamondbacks left on this past road trip I was hopeful that Young would get a little success and build upon that for the last three weeks of the season. In Los Angeles he struggled and manager AJ Hinch took him out of the line-up to give him some time to think.

Today Young was back and in more ways than one. Rather than the Chris Young we had seen all season, today he was more like the rookie we saw in 2007 which has nearly unlimited potential.

Young would go 3-3 at the plate with three home runs. He would walk the other two at-bats giving him a perfect on-base percentage. Hopefully he will be able to carry this momentum with him back to Phoenix and through the last three weeks of the season.

The Diamondbacks would like nothing better than to go into the off-season knowing that they have a strong performer that can man center field for 2010 and beyond. There are enough other questions around this team without them having to worry about who will be playing centerfield next year.

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