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Pirates' newest outfielder, Delwyn Young, comes from baseball family

| Saturday, April 18, 2009

The newest member of the Pirates didn't start playing organized baseball until eighth grade, but he's spent a lifetime learning the game.

Delwyn Young, acquired from the Dodgers earlier this week, was raised in a baseball family in which three generations played or coached the sport more than a combined half-century.

"I just was following my dad," he said. "Come Little League, I was somewhere on the field, wherever my dad was playing or my uncle or my grandpa. At that point, I didn't really miss out on Little League."

The switch-hitting 26-year-old utilityman doesn't plan to miss out on the big leagues either.

Acquired for two minor-league players or cash considerations, Young arrived in Pittsburgh on Friday morning after a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. He provides manager John Russell with added offensive pop off the bench.

Young fouled out to the catcher as a pinch-hitter last night in his Pirates debut.

To make room, the club optioned infielder Luis Cruz to Triple-A Indianapolis. Cruz, who hit .224 in 24 games last year, had played in one game this year, going 1 for 2.

"It gives us an extra bat on the bench," Russell said. "Nothing against Luis, but he was more of a defensive guy. It just adds more depth on our offensive side."

Young, a fourth-round pick by the Dodgers in 2002 who can play both corner outfield positions and second base, learned the game from a different vantage point than most.

• His father, Delwyn Young Sr., played in the minor leagues for 13 seasons and worked as a hitting coach for the Lancaster JetHawks in 1996, when Delwyn Jr. was the batboy.

• His grandfather, Fate Young, worked for 35 years as a pro baseball scout.

• His uncle, Selwyn Young, has been around baseball since helping Pepperdine to the 1979 College World Series.

Dewlyn Jr. tried football as a youngster, but baseball won over the 5-foot-8, 208-pounder.

"I couldn't tell my parents any different," he said, "that I would grow up and play baseball."

Young was among the Dodgers' top minor-league hitters as recently as two years ago (he hit a Pacific Coast-record 54 doubles in 2007). But an elbow injury and being stuck behind a major-league outfield that features Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier slowed his progression.

Young, who led the Dodgers with 14 pinch-hits last year, has totaled three home runs and 10 RBI while batting .267 over three seasons in the big leagues. He said the Pirates offer him a better chance to play.

"I have an opportunity to play wherever they need me," he said. "I don't think it's that much of a logjam, as it is in L.A. ... Over there, there's a road block every which way you look. You come over here and you just have opportunity everywhere you look."

Young can add to his versatility as he works with Pirates infield instructor Perry Hill at second base, a position he hasn't played regularly since 2002.

"We'll see how it goes," Young said. "I'm just going by what they tell me. ... It's all the same as long as you're playing."

Said Russell, "In the next 10 days, we will have a good indication of where we can use him. Obviously, we can use him in the outfield some, but it would be beneficial if he could play second and third as well."

Hitting isn't a question. Young hit .337 with 17 home runs and 97 doubles with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s in 2007. In his second career start, in August 2007, Young went 4 for 4. He is reunited with former Dodger teammate Andy LaRoche.

"He told me they are a good group of guys and all striving for the same goal," Young said. "He said, 'Get on the carousel and have fun.' "

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