MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -One month into his first season with the Minnesota Twins, Delmon Young is still looking for that first home run. That hasn't stopped him from contributing as he gets comfortable playing in a new ballpark for a new manager in front of new fans.
The power has been slow to come for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound 22-year-old who was acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason for top pitching prospect Matt Garza in a six-player deal. Young is hitting .265 with just eight RBIs and has been dropped from fifth to seventh in the batting order, but has supplemented his inconsistent production at the plate with occasionally spectacular play in left field and an aggressiveness on the bases.
``I think he's trying to settle in a little bit,'' first baseman Justin Morneau said. ``I don't think he's trying to be anything that he's not. He's just being the player he is. He can hit. He can run around. He can do a little bit of everything. He's helped us win some ballgames.''
Young may have looked a little shaky early in the season chasing after pop flies set against the Metrodome's baseball-hiding roof, but the ball always seems to wind up in his glove. He only has one error and made two eye-opening catches in Wednesday's victory over the White Sox.
He dashed about 25 yards in the first inning to track down a line drive by Orlando Cabrera, then covered even more ground in the fifth to make a running catch on a drive by Toby Hall. The night before, Young leaped at the wall to catch a ball off the bat of Jim Thome, then made a strong throw to Brendan Harris, who was able to double up Nick Swisher in the eighth inning to preserve the Twins' 3-1 lead.
``You guys make the roof sound like it's so tough,'' Young said. ``The only thing I do is watch it. That's the only way I'm going to catch it.''
He is tied for the major league lead with four outfield assists and also has six stolen bases, both saving runs and generating them without knocking the ball out of the park.
``He's very talented. We expect really good things out of him,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We're just trying not to put too much pressure on him where he feels like he has to hit 40 home runs. Just play and play the game the right way. And he's done that. Run balls out. Listen. He works in the outfield. He's done fine.''
When Young came to Minnesota, many expected him to replace Torii Hunter's bat in the lineup. Hunter hit .287 with 28 homers and 107 RBIs, parlaying that into a $90 million deal with the Angels in free agency.
The Twins have never been too concerned with power numbers. They preach use of the entire field, adhering to the basics of smart hitting and letting the homers come when they come.
``He's getting on base. He's doing what we need him to do,'' right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. ``We didn't sign him to come over here and hit 30 homers. We brought him over here to contribute and play. I think there might have been maybe some unfair expectations. He's done his thing.''
Young has been short with reporters recently, especially when asked about his start at the plate. He says ``it's early'' and that he will come around as the season progresses.
Gardenhire has hinted that he would like a little more sense of urgency in that regard, but otherwise has no complaints about his attitude and work ethic, which came under question during his time with Tampa Bay.
``He doesn't seem to let too many things bother him. A strikeout or anything like that, he's not one of these guys who goes in there and snaps. He doesn't throw stuff,'' Gardenhire said. ``He's been very good. He's worked. You can talk to him. ... He's been receptive, and that's all you can ask of a young player.''
Six of the Twins' 10 series in April were against AL Central opponents, and Morneau said he expects Young's numbers to improve as he becomes more comfortable with the pitchers he faces on a regular basis.
``I'm sure he's not as happy as he could be. But he could be worse than he is,'' Morneau said. ``He's done some things that are really impressive and he's showed us he's ready to play every day and be a good teammate.''
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