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05/30/08 1:25 AM ET
Young benched, ending games streak
After two tough nights, outfielder does not play on Thursday
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire felt that it was important to get Delmon Young back in the starting lineup on Wednesday to boost his confidence following a difficult game the previous night. But after the left fielder suffered through his second straight rough night -- both in the field and at the plate -- Gardenhire decided that it was time for a rest. Young was not in the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Royals, and it might not be the only game he begins on the bench. "I was hoping he would come back out yesterday, get some hits, and rebound, but it didn't happen," Gardenhire said. "The other guy [Craig Monroe] did pretty good, so we'll see what Monroe can do and go from there. We'll give [Jason] Kubel a chance to go out in the outfield, once or twice, and we'll see whatever happens here. "Today? Tomorrow? I don't know. We'll see how he reacts today and go from there. See how his reaction is." Young didn't seem to be upset by the day off, even though it ended his streak of 217 consecutive games played. It had been the longest active streak in the Majors. "I'll take that break any day," Young said. "Last year, there were games I wouldn't start, but because the game was so tight, I had to come in and play defense. That's why I had 162. I only started about 155 or 156 of them. ... If I had to come in late in [Thursday's] game for defense, I would have done it." The team's current road trip has been a difficult one for Young as he's gone 1-for-18 (.055) at the plate. His batting average has dropped from .277 to .258 over that time. Young has also suffered through some defensive troubles, including mistakes in each of the last two games. That included his poor decision to slide for a ball that became an inside-the-parker in the ninth inning on Tuesday and two errors in one inning in Wednesday's victory. One was a throwing error by Young that ended up at the backstop, although Gardenhire put some blame on third baseman Mike Lamb for not cutting off the ball. The other error was much more clear-cut as Young missed a catchable fly ball. "There comes a time when you have to say he might need a bit of a mental break," Gardenhire said. "You can see he's fighting it pretty hard, even out there defensively. So we'll give the other guy [Monroe] a chance to go back out, and see if he can get his swing back out there. ... Watching a game helps a little bit every once in a while." Gardenhire didn't want to speculate how Young's misplay in Tuesday's game might have impacted his play the next night. But he knows that the outfielder has put pressure on himself to break out of his current slump and that Young wants to get rid of the zero in his home run column. "Every once in a while, it's going to get to a point with a young kid who is out there struggling and fighting things that he starts pressing," Gardenhire said. "He's putting pressure on himself to try and do things. He talks about home runs. And you know what, sometimes you have to sit back and say, 'Take a break here.' That's what I'm doing today. "We tried to fight our way through it as hard as we can, even when he had as tough of a night as he could. And he followed it up with another tough night. That tells me he's really kind of fighting himself right now."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.