Intense, prepared Andrew Young could get more opportunities on D-backs

May 14, 2021, 8:37 AM
Andrew Young #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Nick Ahmed #13, Pavin Smith #26 and Wy...
Andrew Young #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Nick Ahmed #13, Pavin Smith #26 and Wyatt Mathisen #27 after hitting a grand slam in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Andrew Young doesn’t always play. But when he does, he hits home runs.

The 27-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks slugger hasn’t had much of a chance to gain traction on a team with a pretty reliable depth chart at second base. But he’s forced manager Torey Lovullo’s hand.

Young earned a start against the Miami Marlins on Thursday after hitting a home run the night before. It was his fourth home run in his first four hits this year (19 plate appearances).

His streak still lives on after he walked once and struck out twice in a 5-1 loss to Miami at Chase Field. Young remains tied for the second-longest number of hits being home runs to start a season and is one off the MLB record of five set by the Detroit Tigers’ Rob Deer in 1992.

“I do practice hitting home runs in practice and BP, and I think there’s something to be said for practicing hitting home runs and hitting home runs,” Young said before the game.

“I’m not a believer in spraying the ball the other way. I always try to elevate the ball and it’s been working out so far.”

Young, who joined Arizona as a hard-hitting prospect in the 2018 Paul Goldschmidt trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, did not have a strong spring, hitting .150.

Yet there was something to his work ethic that had D-backs decision-makers noticing his intensity.

The infielder was called up in mid-April. He started in left field his second game of action and hit a home run — but he also recorded a fielding error that translated to a four-run inning for the Washington Nationals.

Since then, Young hadn’t started until Thursday. His four homers — three in pinch-hit situations — have sure caught eyes.

Young has been hitting dingers despite being ferried between the Diamondbacks, their taxi squad and Triple-A Reno quite a bit this year.

Nine days before he was brought back up to the MLB club for his most recent stint, Young stopped in Las Vegas to stay the night while driving to an assignment in Triple-A Reno. He ended up turning back around when the D-backs placed first baseman Christian Walker and pitcher Zac Gallen on the injured list.

“Look, I want to get him in a lineup,” Lovullo said before the Marlins game on Thursday. “I want to give an opportunity to get four clean at-bats. We ask a lot of him. We all know we asked him to play in left field in Washington several weeks ago. We thought he was ready for that.”

Lovullo admitted that Young likely will only get starts in the infield, where he’s most comfortable. Those opportunities could be few and far between, though perhaps the injury to infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on Thursday night could make Young a necessity.

What’s Young’s secret to being ready, as pinch-hitter or not?

“I think I stand in on a lot of bullpens and I hit a lot of machine, which I think is a key to keeping your timing,” Young said. “I think pinch-hitting can be hard when you don’t get at-bats. … Whoever’s catching that bullpen, I don’t want to know the pitch and I try to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when it’s coming.

“I kind of play games with myself before the game to keep myself locked in even when I’m not getting those at-bats.”

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