Delmon homers in first at-bat after coming off DL
Outfielder Carrera designated for assignment to clear roster spot
CLEVELAND -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said a few times in the past couple of weeks that the Phillies would not put Delmon Young in a uniform unless he showed he could play competently in right field.
Apparently, they believe he can.
The Phillies activated him from the disabled list before Tuesday's game against the Indians at Progressive Field, designating outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. Young hit fifth behind Ryan Howard in the lineup Tuesday, serving as the designated hitter, and he belted a solo homer in his first Phillies at-bat.
Young finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a hit-by-pitch
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he expects Young to play right field Wednesday.
It should be interesting to watch. Young has been recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle, reacquainting himself with right field, a position he has not played since 2007. Young said he feels fine out there and his mobility continues to improve the more he plays.
He also said he is motivated.
"You've got to be motivated if you want to play," Young said. "If you aren't motivated, you could have one good season and then take it back to the house and never play again. So if you want to play as long as you can possibly play, have a career sort of like Chipper Jones, you have to be motivated day in and day out. This is not an easy sport. It's not a sport that's going to let you have your way with it. You have to work hard. You have to have some type of motivation to come out here and play."
Young signed a one-year, $750,000 contract for a chance to play with the Phillies. He received a $250,000 bonus for being activated Tuesday, and could receive up to $600,000 in bonuses if he simply makes weight on six different occasions this season. That is a lot of money for the average American, but by baseball standards it is a pittance. Young would like a big-time deal, but he can only get that if he earns it.
A big season with the Phillies where he shows he can be a decent outfielder would help.
But Manuel acknowledged he is likely to use a defensive replacement for Young late in games. Manuel did that regularly with Pat Burrell in 2008, having Eric Bruntlett and So Taguchi take his place in left. The Phillies can live with that if Young hits.
They certainly need that. Phillies outfielders entered the night with a combined .602 OPS, which was the second-worst mark in baseball behind the Marlins (.597).
If Young hits like he hit with the Twins in 2010 (.826 OPS), the Phillies will be happy. But he had a .707 OPS with 74 RBIs last season in Detroit. He ranked 20th in baseball with 415 runners on base during his plate appearances in 2012. He had a ton of opportunities to knock in runs, but his runners-batted-in percentage (13.5 percent) ranked 98th, meaning he did not take advantage of those opportunities.
Young was asked if the arrival of himself and Carlos Ruiz this week could jump-start the offense.
"If we hit," Young said with a chuckle. "It doesn't matter who you bring in. If the team is struggling and we struggle, it doesn't matter who you bring. You can go get a kid from A-ball, and if he's raking, he's going to help carry the team. So it just matters who's playing well."
The Phillies are betting Young will.
"The thing people don't understand about Delmon, in my opinion, he's a baseball player," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He's got instincts for the game. He's a baseball rat. He's going to find a way to get it done. It might not look like it's supposed to look, but he'll find a way to get it done. ... He's a very motivated guy. It's big for him to show people he can still play in the field and swing the bat like he always has. It's all they're waiting for. Now he just has to go do it."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.