Young: D-backs’ crowded outfield no concern
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — With the acquisition of Jason Kubel from Minnesota this offseason, the Diamondbacks’ outfield situation got a little complicated. Gold Glove winner Gerrardo Parra suddenly appeared out of a starting job.
Parra reported to D-backs camp at Salt River Fields on Wednesday and said he’s happy the team added Kubel. He offered not even an inkling of a complaint.
But what about center fielder Chris Young, who could stand to lose a little playing time if Parra earns time in center, as manager Kirk Gibson suggested earlier this week? No complaints there, either. In fact, Young said he hasn’t heard much about it.
“Nothing’s been brought to my attention,” Young said Thursday. “I come into spring training with the same mentality every year, as if you’re trying to prove to everybody the type of player you are and what you can bring to the team. This spring is no different.
“I am a guy that likes to play day in and day out. I’ve always been that type of player. But nothing’s been brought to my attention, so I honestly don’t even think about it.”
By no means is there any suggestion that Young’s job is up for grabs; center field is still his. But Young did struggle against right-handed pitching last season, hitting just .222. Gibson is also known for getting all his players into games.
If the D-backs do ask Young to come off the bench here and there or replace him late in games, he won’t resist. He said he’s ready to do whatever the team needs to win — but he isn’t preparing for any kind of reduced role.
“The goal is winning, by all means,” Young said. “As far as I know right now, I’m preparing myself to play center field every day.”
Young wasn’t quite himself at the plate last season and battled injuries during the second half. He hit just .193 after the All-Star Break and tallied 21 RBIs, less than half the 50 he put up in the first half.
The primary issue for Young was a strained ligament in his left thumb first suffered in June. He admitted earlier this week that it may have contributed to his second-half struggles at the plate, but he hesitated to say how much.
“There’s no way to really tell,” Young said Thursday. “Your hands are very important, so if you have any issue with your hands, it’s going to cause you to adjust your swing. It did affect me a little bit, but I wouldn’t take it back. I would still do everything the same way.”
The thumb, Young said, is now 100 percent.
“It feels like there was nothing ever wrong with it. I had plenty of time this offseason to get it right. … Closer to the playoffs I wasn’t feeling it as much. and right after the season. after a couple weeks off, it pretty much flared down, and I haven’t had any issues with it since, I haven’t felt it once this offseason.”
Young said he started hitting in November with no pain, and the thumb checked out in physicals with team doctors.