CY's Derby experience 'a blast'
D-backs outfielder shakes off modest performance
ANAHEIM -- Chris Young did not win the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday night. In fact, he hit just one homer.But he also alleviated a big concern among D-backs' fans.
"Nobody's got to worry about my swing getting turned around, because I was hitting line drives," Young said. "I couldn't switch it enough to get the lift in it, but that's not a bad thing. In the long run, I'd much rather have my line-drive swing than my home run swing."It's a swing that Young spent the entire offseason developing after a disappointing 2009 that included far too many popups. When he was asked to participate in the Derby, he talked about trying to get more lift back in his swing, but acknowledged that he would have to be careful not to carry that back into the regular season. The homer that Young hit came after he had two of his 10 outs. "I got those first two outs, and I was like, 'Uh oh,'" Young said. "If I had hit another popup after those first two outs, I'd have been pressing. All my teammates at home were basically like, 'You'd better not come home with a goose egg.' When I got that first one, I was feeling pretty good about it. The rest were line drives and fly balls." Hitting in a Derby like this is far different than normal batting practice. For one thing, there is no cage around you, and for another, the public-address announcer talks while you're hitting. In addition, Young was the first hitter, so he didn't have the luxury of seeing how things worked before having to step in the box. "It's tough because you don't really know what to expect," he said. "I'm not used to people talking while I'm hitting. You get used to it after a while, but I wasn't expecting it at first." Young, who hit 15 homers in the first half of the season, hit 32 home runs to go along with 27 stolen bases in 2007. It was the first time in Major League history that a rookie had hit more than 30 homers and recorded more than 25 steals. After struggling at the plate last year, he spent the offseason working with his high school coach, Sid Holland, in Houston. It was Holland who Young chose to have pitch to him Monday. "He was [nervous] at first," Young said. "But then he got on the mound and he was fine. He was throwing strikes. I tried to go by the program someone gave me, take a little bit, swing a little bit." Once he watched others take their hacks, Young wished he could have another shot. "After you go sit down after everything's done, you're like, 'I wish I could do it again, I'd definitely do much better now,'" Young said. Regardless, the experience, which he shared with his two nephews on the field, is one he won't soon forget. There were conversations with Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard, along with a picture he took with Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson. "It was a blast," Young said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.