|Dmitri Young Attempting Another Comeback||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on February 03, 2012
A few pounds lost were all Dmitri Young needed to attempt his second comeback.
Well, more than a few. The former heavyset switch-hitting first baseman with crazy hair has dropped nearly 60 to 90 pounds, depending on which weight he has been listed at, to a svelte 232. He looked to be in the best shape of his life when he attended the Major League Baseball 23rd Annual B.A.T. Dinner in New York on Jan. 24.
Doctors gave him a poor health report in January 2011, and he decided to lose weight. His health became his primary focus. Young is also diabetic.
The comeback began while playing in alumni games on the east coast, a military game in New Jersey and the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown in June 2011. He wowed fans in Cooperstown by defeating former Major Leaguer Reggie Sanders in the Home Run Derby and proceeded to go 3-for-4 in the game with a home run, which earned him the Bob Feller Award as the game's MVP.
Young said that fans and even Hall of Famers approached him wondering why he was playing in alumni games rather than professional baseball.
"People were saying, 'You look too good not to give it a chance,'" said Young. '"You don't want to have any regrets.' They said, 'You need to take it to another level.'"
So he continued to get into baseball shape and began playing in Venezuela. Though his .166 batting average may seem like he struggled, Young said he used this time as a refresher course after being out of the game. He is 38 and a career .292 hitter after playing parts of 13 seasons.
"Playing 70 pounds lighter...that's another whole deal in itself," Young said.
At the B.A.T. Dinner, Young said his agent has been in contact with a few teams. However, he has tried not to get involved with the negotiations.
"That's their business," he said. "My business is to get baseball ready."
Young said he's obviously not holding out for a three-year deal, but he just wants to be given the chance to prove that he still has baseball talent. It basically wouldn't cost anything for a team to give Young an invite to spring training to see what he's got left.
He hopes teams will view him as a veteran presence who can help out the younger guys. He has used this comeback to set an example for his younger brother, Tigers' outfielder Delmon Young.
"When you see me, you see commitment, you see change," Dmitri Young said. "You can get my last baseball card and think it's not the same guy."
This wouldn't be his first comeback. The Detroit Tigers released him in 2006 after only 48 games. That year, he dealt with a divorce, alcoholism and a domestic assault case against a former girlfriend. When the Tigers reached the World Series without him, he slipped into clinical depression.
However, Young overcame his hardships and returned the next season as an All-Star for the Washington Nationals, hitting .320 for the year. But he's been out of the game for the past two and half years.
It may be difficult for Young to latch on with a team before spring training, which is only a few weeks away. With unsigned DH-types like Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez and Johnny Damon still unsigned, Young may be forced to seek other opportunities.
But if he stays committed like he has over the past year, hopefully Young will get his chance to shine once more.