After five-plus big league seasons, D-backs center fielder Chris Young has been lauded as one of the elite defenders in Major League Baseball. His range, speed and glove have long elicited praise and accolades from his teammates and peers.
As Young enters the 2012 season, his focus will be on improving at the plate and silencing the critics who have been underwhelmed by his often inconsistent offensive numbers.
In 2011, the 28-year-old hit a lowly .236 with 20 home runs and 71 RBIs. Still, Young has set the bar high for himself going forward.
“I am not going to put it outside of my abilities to say that I can’t be a .300 hitter with 30 or 35 [home runs] or whatever you can say,” Young told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday. “All I can do is continue to work on it and hope it all comes together for an entire season not just for a month here and a month off.”
Young expressed the importance of controlling his number of strikeouts while continually putting forth quality at-bats.
“I am trying to becoming more consistent, especially with my bat, and my approach has changed a little bit,” Young said.
The one main area in which Young hopes to flourish is creating higher run-producing numbers.
“What really wins the ballgames are the RBIs — the runs that you are actually producing,” Young stated. “How many stolen bases are you having where you were on first base and steal second and the guy hits a single and you score so the runs scored aren’t important, the RBIs are important.”
With the offseason addition of outfielder Jason Kubel and manager Kirk Gibson’s comments suggesting Young may have more days off to rest and stay fresh during the season, the D-backs’ center fielder recognizes the importance of proving himself on a daily basis.
“As a player, it’s tough to just accept it and want to take a day off,” Young explained. “I take a lot of pride in being out there in the field every day. I love being an everyday player and it’s something that I’ve worked towards and you feel like you can help the team win every day, no matter if it’s with the bat or the glove.”
Despite the added outfield competition, Young had nothing but the utmost praise for Gibson’s managerial style.
“Gibby’s been amazing since he’s been over here, ever since Day 1,” Young said. “He’s been learning his players, learning what we respond to but still keeping his morals intact with the type of manager he wants to be.”
Gibson expects his players to respect the game of baseball and play it with the same gumption that he did.
Chris Young’s never-say-die work ethic and hard-nosed approach to the game embodies the very qualities that Gibson teaches and holds dear.
If Young can translate those attributes into results with the bat this season, the Diamondbacks’ offense will be booming.