03/04/11 7:05 PM EST
Young aims to fill role for Phillies
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
The utility label has stuck for Young, the 28-year-old switch-hitting son of a longtime Minor League player and hitting coach. This season is to be his sixth in the Majors, and his first with Philadelphia.
"Sometimes it's not that good to be that good at everything; sometimes it's harder to hone one position when the next day you're here and the next day you're there," Young said after starting at second base Friday in a 7-4 Phillies win over the Pirates. "But one way or another, you've got to make the most of your opportunity."
Young wasn't complaining, but he was stating a fact that Phillies management has said in so many words. They look at him as a play-everywhere guy. Even in light of Chase Utley's patellar tendinitis, which is expected to heal by the end of Spring Training but still has the All-Star unable to run or field, manager Charlie Manuel said Thursday that Young wouldn't be looked at as a plus defender at second base.
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Young knows championship-caliber teams like the Phillies value role players, and he believes he's good at the job. A lifetime .258 hitter, Young hit seven homers for the Pirates in each of the last two seasons. Perhaps more important, he's a career .271 pinch-hitter.
"I think on a team like this, the attitude is that everybody fits a role," he said. "I'd be good in that role for them, and I've had success in the past doing it."
But there is an advantage to being capable at so many positions, as Young pointed out. If a need arises somewhere -- if someone like Utley goes down -- then there's a chance to play a position a less versatile player may not be able to.
Wilson Valdez, Josh Barfield, Pete Orr and Brian Bocock have all played second base in the spring, so it's not as though Young's out there vying for a look alone. Valdez is an experienced middle infielder.
What's to be seen, though, is whether Utley is able to make it back by Opening Day, which the club is hopeful of, and whether Young is looked at if he's not.
"That's maybe the benefit of being a utility player, that if somebody goes down and you're good at one position or multiple positions, that's the role that you fill on the team," Young said. "As soon as Chase comes back we all know that he's playing second. Just to fill in for him and do a good job while he's gone."
Young signed with the Phillies on a Minor League deal this offseason, in part because of his familiarity with the clubhouse. He knows Shane Victorino from the Dodgers' system, and he was actually Raul Ibanez's batboy in A-ball, when Young's father, Delwyn Young Sr., was a hitting coach for the same club.
"I've been following him obviously ever since he signed," Ibanez said. "I've been following everything he did. It's really cool. I'm proud of him."
Ibanez said his relationship with Young doesn't bring as much a student-mentor dynamic as it does a friendship. Sharing a clubhouse with Young doesn't make Ibanez feel old, he said, rather it makes him feel glad he's been around this long.
Asked how he thought Young could potentially fare in Utley's stead, the 38-year-old Ibanez recalled Young as a preteen.
"I can tell you, when he was 10 years old, he was switch-hitting using our wood bats and stroking line drives all over the place," Ibanez said. "He's always been impressive with the bat."