DETROIT — Delmon Young found out he was traded from Minnesota to Detroit, hours before the Twins were scheduled to play the Tigers.
With no better way to travel to the ballpark, he hitched a ride on the team bus with what was by then his former club.
“I’m not going to sit in a 30-minute cab ride,” Young said. “Now, I think it would be awkward if I took the team bus back.”
The Tigers are the latest team hoping Young can finally live up to expectations. Once one of baseball’s top prospects, the former No. 1 draft pick was traded Monday for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named. Detroit immediately put him in the lineup, batting third and playing left field.
Young has been bothered by injuries this year and is hitting .266 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in 84 games. He had what may have been his best season in 2010, hitting .298 with 21 homers.
The first-place Tigers add another potentially big bat to their roster as they try to hold on in the AL Central. They led Cleveland by 2 1/2 games heading into Monday night’s action.
The Twins were 11 1/2 games back.
“We still haven’t scored runs on that consistent basis that you keep looking for, and sometimes just that extra little piece — maybe he gets hot at this time,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We know he has the capabilities to do that.”
The move will likely mean reduced playing time for Detroit outfielder Magglio Ordonez. Manager Jim Leyland penciled Ordonez into Monday night’s lineup, batting seventh, but said his regular outfield will probably consist of Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Young.
“Magglio and I have had a nice discussion,” Leyland said. “Obviously, out of respect, I called Magglio as soon as this thing happened — all this happened very fast, by the way. … I’m going to pick my spots to play Mags.”
Ordonez was hitting only .223 with four home runs entering Monday night’s game.
The Twins received left-hander Cole Nelson from the Tigers.
Young, the top pick in the 2003 draft by Tampa Bay, didn’t become the feared power hitter that the Twins were hoping for when they acquired him in 2008. He was hitting .266 with just four homers and 32 RBIs in 84 games this season.
He’s still only 25, though, and had what was probably his best season in 2010, hitting .298 with 21 home runs.
“There’s a lot of guys who are stunned in our clubhouse, especially in this situation, where he just walked from our clubhouse across 8 Mile and into their clubhouse,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I saw that in a movie, and I thought it would be appropriate in Detroit.”
Young didn’t have far to go to join his new team, with the Twins in Detroit to open a series against the Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday night.
“I just had to walk across to get my stuff from the other clubhouse and come on over,” Young said.
Young and the Twins avoided salary arbitration before this season, agreeing in February to a one-year contract worth US$5,375,000. Young has made a couple of trips to the disabled list this season with a strained left oblique and sprained right ankle.
Young’s brother Dmitri Young played for the Tigers from 2002-06.
Delmon Young received notoriety for an April 2006 incident in the minor leagues.
After being rung up on a called third strike, the 20-year-old Young snapped. He whipped his bat and accidentally hit the umpire in the arm. He was suspended for 50 games.
The Tigers don’t seem too concerned with any of Young’s baggage.
“I think when he was younger, he’s matured since that time period,” Dombrowski said. “I think last year, everybody thought he had taken that final step to become really a premier player. He was a guy that was a force last year and down the stretch was really big.”
Nelson was a 10th-round pick in 2010. He was 5-11 with a 4.87 earned-run average in 26 appearances for class-A Lakeland this season.
The Tigers optioned second baseman Will Rhymes to triple-A Toledo to make room on the 25-man roster for Young. Rhymes had just been recalled from the minors the previous day and pinch-ran in Sunday’s game at Baltimore.
“He didn’t look good in the lobby so we sent him back down,” Leyland said. “Naw, I’m just kidding. We had to obviously make a move, so that’s the move we made.”