Tigers' lineup dependent upon Young's status
Outfielder improving, but Leyland can't set Game 1 batting order
ARLINGTON -- The possibility of Delmon Young starting in left field and batting third in the Tigers' lineup Saturday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Rangers has brightened considerably.Young, who sustained a mild strain of his left oblique in Thursday night's AL Division Series clincher against the Yankees, swung off a tee Friday and was examined by team doctors. "He looks pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said as his club took the field for a light pre-series workout at Rangers Ballpark. "I'd say he's probable, if this was the NFL." Playing Young will be a gameday decision, added Leyland, who is tinkering with various other combinations if Young can't play. "That's something that my general manager and my coaches and I will be discussing," Leyland said. "I will say we have a couple of plan Bs, not just a plan B." Young left the game at Yankee Stadium in the seventh inning after injuring his left side on the last swing of his final at-bat as he popped out to second base. While his teammates nailed down the victory, he took treatment. During the raucous celebration in the clubhouse, Young said he wasn't sure if he would be able to make it in Game 1, and he reiterated that opinion during an interview session in Texas. "I'll give it a shot," he said. Asked whether he had undergone an MRI or CT scan on Friday, Young seemed a bit incredulous. "Sir, we got here at 6 o'clock in the morning," Young said. "There has been no time for MRIs or CT scans." All Young did in Detroit's five-game ALDS victory over the Yankees was hit three homers, including a back-to-back shot behind Don Kelly on consecutive pitches off Ivan Nova in the first inning Thursday night. That staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead on their way to a 3-2 victory. Young is the first player in Tigers history to hit three homers in a postseason series. Hank Greenberg didn't do it. Neither did Al Kaline, Kirk Gibson or Pudge Rodriguez. It was also the first time that the Tigers uncorked back-to-back jacks in a playoff game. Young was claimed on waivers from the Twins and acquired in an Aug. 15 trade for two players. He has fit in well ever since, often hitting ahead of cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera in the batting order. "When I told him he was hitting third after he got here, I asked him if he was OK with that," Leyland said. "He said, 'Are you kidding me? I'm happy with that.' It's worked out well for us. It extended our lineup a little bit." Magglio Ordonez, who said on Friday that he's 90 percent recovered from a badly broken right ankle, once occupied the coveted third slot and could be moved back there if Young is a no-go. As in Game 1 of the ALDS against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, righty-swinging Ryan Raburn will play on Saturday against Rangers southpaw C.J. Wilson. Whether he plays second base or left field will depend on Young's status. Leyland also said that veteran right-handed hitter Brandon Inge will start at third base, but a full batting order had yet to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. on FOX). "I can't give you the total lineup because I really don't know the availability of Delmon Young at this time," Leyland said. "I wish I could, but I can't give it to you."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.