Former team is happy to see Delmon Young join a contender in Tigers
DETROIT — Trevor Plouffe plays for the Minnesota Twins. He and Delmon Young have been friends for 15 years, since they began playing baseball together when they were about 10.
"He really is a great guy," Plouffe said. "I feel fortunate not only to have been his teammate, but to have grown up with him. Not many people can say they got to play in the big leagues with one of their childhood friends."
Plouffe and Young had their big-league reunion when Minnesota brought up Plouffe last season. The two became former teammates Monday when the Twins traded Young to the Tigers for two minor leaguers. Young received the news in a phone call when he and Plouffe were in a cab, hours before the Tigers-Twins series opener.
This was surprising for Young — he thought the call was a joke — but it ranked as low-profile compared with the way he joined his two previous big-league teams.
Tampa Bay made Young the No. 1 pick overall in the 2003 draft . Four years later, it traded him to the Twins as the major piece in a six-player swap.
"When he came over to the Twins, he had kind of a 'bad-boy' image," Plouffe said. "More and more, as people got to play with him, and as fans got to interact with him, they found out he's a really nice guy."
Plouffe and Young come from southern California.
"We went to high school about an hour and a half apart," Plouffe said. "We didn't play against each other, but we kept in touch and went to some of each other's games. I was really happy to see him get traded to the Twins. I'm equally happy to see him go to a contender this year. I think it's going to be good for him. We lost a guy a lot of people in the clubhouse like. But it's good for him."
Young launched his Tigers career with three games against the Twins. He went 5-for-13 with a homer (on his first Detroit at-bat) and two RBIs. Twins centerfielder Ben Revere stole a pair of RBIs from him with two outlandish catches Wednesday night.
"I told Delmon I appreciated everything he did over here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was a really good teammate.
"I told him, 'Enjoy this. You're back where we wanted to be, and that's in a heck of a pennant race. Good luck. You enjoy the heck out of it.'
"He's excited to be back in first place with a team that has a chance to win."
For the third straight year, Young can make a significant contribution to the American League Central champion. In the final 2 ½ weeks of the 2009 season, he hit .400 with power as the Twins chased down the Tigers. He drove in 112 runs last season when the Twins ran away with the Central.
Now he hits third for the first-place Tigers, who acquired him in the hopes he can bring some more consistency to the offense. So far, he has. The Tigers, with Young's help the last three games, have now scored at least five runs in six straight games — their longest such streak of the season.
Young's older brother, Dmitri, played five seasons for the Tigers. The club let him go less than a month before it made the playoffs in '06. What did Dmitri tell Delmon this week when Delmon joined the Tigers?
"He said I was going to enjoy the city, the fans and the team," Delmon Young said. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I came to a pennant race and a group of guys who are really good to be around."