Representing Your Arizona Diamondbacks, Chris YoungPosted by Jeff Summers on Jul 13, 2010 in 2010 Regular Season | 0 comments
It is perhaps one of the best “feel-good” stories of the 2010 baseball season. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young was named to the All-Star game by Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
Young would be the only representative from a team who limped into the All-Star break 21 games under .500 and 17.5 games behind division leading San Diego. It was just the third time in Diamondbacks history where the team did not send a pitcher to the mid-summer classic. The focus was not about why a position player was selected over a pitcher. This was about the amazing turnaround for a young outfielder (no pun intended).
A year ago when the All-Star break arrived the last thing Chris Young wanted to think about was baseball. He was mired in a season long slump and sported a sub-.200 batting average with career lows in nearly every offensive category.
Young would take a much needed break from the game and try to get his head around as to what he could do to regain some level of confidence. The four days off didn’t seem to matter much and Young continued to struggle before the team finally ran out of patience and sent their starting centerfielder to Triple-A Reno to try and regain some confidence and work through his swing mechanics.
After a stint in the minor leagues Young returned to the Diamondbacks. While he would never regain his confidence or magically put up monster numbers, Young did show signs that he might be able to regain his form that made him dominant in his rookie season. Unfortunately Young had dug too deep a hole to recover last season.
During the off-season Young continued to work on his mechanics and diligently prepared to start fresh in the 2010 season. As he arrived in Tucson for Spring Training he dealt with the continual questions from the media on whether he felt he could come back from such a disastrous season the year before. To Young’s credit he stood and answered the questions no matter how many times they were asked.
Watching his swing during the Cactus League you could tell Young had been working hard and was now seeing the results. He came away prepared for the regular season and began in a much better position than he was in 2009.
Over most of the first half of this season Young has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance. Young leads the Diamondbacks in runs batted in, is second in home runs with 15 behind Mark Reynolds’ 20 and is hitting a respectable .266. All of these garnered the attention of Manuel who rewarded Young with his first trip to an All-Star game.
He was not just a member of the All-Star team, Young was also named one of the eight contestants in the Home Run Derby. The Home Run Derby participation was rather perplexing given Young is predominately a line-drive hitter. It was therefore not surprising that he hit one single home run in the derby. Regardless you could see by the look on his face that he was having fun, something that was lacking for all of the 2009 season.
During the All-Star game Young was a pinch hitter with the tying run on third base. As has been the case in the past, his over eagerness resulted in him lunging through the strike zone popping up to the first baseman. That did not deter Young and he took his place in centerfield after his All-Star teammate Brian McCann picked him up hitting a double to drive in the go-ahead runs.
With the game on the line and the American League having the tying run at the plate Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton got Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler to fly out to centerfield where Young effortlessly caught the ball to record the final out and seal a National League victory for the first time since 1996.
With that Young’s All-Star experience ended but I promise you he will never forget it. Not just participating in the All-Star festivities but also the long and arduous process it took to reach this pinnacle. Hopefully this is the first of many All-Star games for Chris Young, he definitely deserves it.