I’m happy for Young and his family that he sought help and took the steps necessary to warrant a return to the major league-leading Tigers’ surprising squad.
Next, I’m happy for selfish reasons that Young is back. If he can recapture the form that led to him being a Major League Baseball All-Star (2003), then he could be the difference-maker that will keep the Tigers out front in the pennant race.
“He’s a professional hitter,” former Tigers great Willie Horton explained. “We talk about making trades, but he can be the one that puts this team over the top.”
Added Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline: “Getting Dmitri back is like getting a new player. Now we may not need to give up any of our promising young guys.”
Maybe Young’s rebirth will allow Tigers President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski to stand pat as Kaline noted and not trade any current or future stars germinating in the minors.
Young, 32, a Vicksburg, Miss. native, played in only 15 of the Tigers’ first 95 games before taking leave to arrest and harness substance abuse problems that, in part, led to a .190 batting average before his return two weeks ago.
“I’ve learned how to take accountability for my actions,” Young said before a recent game. “Man, I was an angry person – not necessarily to my teammates, but in my everyday life dealings.
“It feels so good to be back. I worked my tail off, personally and physically. At one point, I was going up to the plate and thinking about all the stuff I was going through and not the pitcher. I’m thankful the Tigers gave me another chance.”
When one gets something they cherish taken away, many times that person cherishes it even more when he or she gets another opportunity.
Many of my brethren in the media have taken Young’s missteps as an opportunity to lambaste him as a person and player.
What they fail to integrate in their thought process is the dynamics of just being human. Young is coming off a painful divorce and a separation from his home, children and a comfortable life-style.
There is no formula for dealing with such a life-changing occurrence like divorce. Too many have taken negative actions after that experience.
Young fits in that category, but to his credit, he has taken steps to alleviate his overwhelming negative emotions.
What Young’s ordeal shows is that money cannot buy happiness. Look at all the wealthy people struggling with separation and depression and the negative actions taken as a result.
I root for Young because I’ve been there and done that. In my common neighborhood, almost everyone has experienced some kind of transgression or hurdle they have had to overcome.
Why would I choose to castigate Young as he negotiates the minefield of conflicting images dancing in his head? After all, everyone has a few bones hidden away.
People like Young are the ones I pray to succeed and endure.
Maybe coming from the environment I came from, where many of my peers found themselves in the negative underworld of life, second chances didn’t always happen. For that reason, spiritually and intellectually, I’m compelled to stand firmly with Young.
Everyday will be a battle to stay sober for Young and it could go either way. But I’m on the positive tip and I believe that there is a blessing coming his way.
Since his return, Young has slugged four home runs and knocked in 13 as he works hard to get back to the 29-home run, .297-batting average he produced in the 2003 season.
In his first game back on July 21 against Oakland, he collected two hits and knocked in the game-winning run before a capacity crowd at Comerica Park.
“I wasn’t nervous, nor was I worried about coming back to the team,” said Young, who has batted over .300 four times in his major-league career. “I’ve played baseball since Little League, so it is natural for me to play the game. It was a relief getting back on the field and contributing.”
Young said he’s grateful that Dombrowski and Tigers Manger Jim Leyland have stood with him.
“They both have been good about the whole thing,” he remarked.
Welcome back, Dmitri! And good luck!
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