Notes: Young ready for fresh start
Outfielder focused on his future with Twins, not past with Rays
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It may seem like a small thing, but Delmon Young wanted to make sure that his first day at Spring Training with the Twins went as well as could be expected.When approached by multiple media members to talk about his arrival in camp early Thursday morning, Young politely asked for the session to be completed later. The outfielder said he had to figure out what the day's schedule was for position players and that he had to introduce himself to some of his teammates that he had yet to meet. That demeanor from Young certainly seems to be a far cry from the picture that was painted of him during his time in Tampa Bay. But while Young seems to be doing everything to try to turn a corner from the somewhat turbulent times he had there, his past hasn't fully disappeared just yet. Young's arrival at Twins camp came just one day after comments surfaced from his former Rays teammate Carl Crawford, which indicated that Tampa Bay is now more peaceful without Young and fellow rookie outfielder Elijah Dukes. The 22-year-old said he hadn't read Crawford's comments and had no plans to do so. "I'm not really too much worried. They got their own stuff in St. Pete and we've got our own stuff down here and in Minnesota," Young said. "All I can worry about is these 25 guys and the front office over here. "You always see people over there, when they're in uniform, saying stuff, but as soon as they leave, they start talking bad about Tampa," he added. "It is what it is, and that's why I'm not too much worried about it. I was called out by Toby [Hall], called out by a couple of guys there, but as soon as they left, they were talking bad about the organization. So you really can't take it for what you see there." Young instead seemed much more focused Thursday on looking ahead to his time with the Twins. Since his trade in late November, Young has talked a lot about using the move as a fresh start. On Thursday, he even pointed to his brother, Dmitri, who earned an All-Star bid with the Nationals in 2007 after being released by the Tigers a season earlier, as an example of just what a change of scenery can do for a player. "It just shows when you get a fresh start and you're in a nice environment that's comfortable for you and you're happy, anything is [possible]," Young said. "He goes out, no training in the offseason, doesn't pick up a bat until he shows up on a Minor League [contract] to camp, then finds his way onto the All-Star team and was in competition for a batting title all year. So it kind of showed me, you get a fresh start -- a second chance -- anything can happen."
As for exactly where Young will be playing when his "second chance" officially kicks off on Opening Day at the Metrodome, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that he still had yet to talk to Young about which corner spot he will likely occupy in the outfield. But whether it's left field or right field, Young put the emphasis instead on team success and said that he's open to any position the Twins ask him to fill."As long as I'm playing every day, I don't care," Young said. "I'll DH, anywhere in the outfield; I'll even try and play first base if that's what they asked me to do. I'll try and play anywhere. I just want to play every day." Missing piece? Juan Rincon never attributed his disappointing 2007 season to any sort of injury. That's why the right-hander was so surprised to hear in late November that he was taken out of the Delmon Young trade with the Rays due to questions surrounding the health of his elbow. "I was expecting to get traded," Rincon said. "I just don't know why Tampa Bay thought I was hurt. When I heard that I was like, 'What are they talking about?' I knew that I was not hurt, and that my results last year were not because I was hurt. I was able to stay healthy all year." His good health was part of the reason why Rincon said his struggles last season were so frustrating. As he battled his control all season, Rincon's ERA rose to 5.13 -- the highest since he'd been given a primary setup role. Still, he could never quite pinpoint the cause for the consistency issues. That is until just before he left for his native Venezuela to pitch winter ball for the Cardenales de Lara. Rincon said he discovered a slight mechanical flaw in his delivery. He was landing too far toward third base with his left foot, forcing himself to throw across his body. "It was causing the sinker to break too much, going too far off the plate," Rincon said. "I couldn't control my fastball away. Instead of going down, it was going flat. So the batter had a better view of the ball. I think that hurt me a lot." The change seemed to make an impact. Rincon posted a 1.80 ERA in the regular season for the Cardenales. He said he pitched even better once the playoffs rolled around and hopes he can carry it into the spring. "I pitched towards the end of the season when most of the big leaguers start to show up there," Rincon said. "And I was very happy with the success that I had. It helps you to come here with a fresh mind and a new beginning. I feel even better than I did last year at this time." Travel issues, Day 4: Left-hander Dennys Reyes did not arrive in time to take part in Thursday's workout. Reyes, who has been delayed in arriving to camp due to a soon-to-expire passport, was stuck in Mexico City early Thursday, and it was unclear just when he would finally make it to camp. "His plane broke down or he got stuck there," Gardenhire said of Reyes. "We're really not sure exactly the time of arrival here." No further update was given on the status of pitcher Francisco Liriano, who is still waiting for his visa to be processed in the Dominican Republic. With Young's arrival and Jason Kubel also checking in, the lone Twins position player who has yet to arrive at camp is Alexi Casilla. The infielder was scheduled to have his visa appointment with the U.S. Consulate in the Dominican Republic on Thursday. Twins tidbits: The Twins have scheduled a "B" game with the Red Sox on March 3 at 10 a.m. ET that will take place at Boston's complex in Fort Myers, Fla. Gardenhire said that more such games could be added as the Twins want to get more opportunities for all their pitchers. "We have a lot of pitchers, and we want to take a look at as many as we can, so we need more innings," the skipper said. ... A bit of rain threatened to delay Thursday's workout, which began a bit earlier than usual. Twins players and the coaching staff were a little quicker to depart after practice than usual, as many of them were taking part in the club's 10th annual Spring Training golf outing to benefit Lee Cancer Care. Bert Blyleven's group shot 56 and took first place on one of the two courses, and pitcher Casey Daigle's group shot 57 to take championship honors on the other course. Quotable: "I'm just glad to be on a team with an MVP and a batting champion. Supposedly, I might be sandwiched between them. I might get 50 walks this year." -- Young, on the possibility that he might get to hit between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau this season
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.