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Published: Friday, 4/9/2004

Young a full-volume cheerleader

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - It was a gimpy but game Dmitri Young hobbling around the Tigers Comerica Park clubhouse yesterday as the team prepared for its home opener against Minnesota. He is down, but clearly not out.

Young, the upbeat cheerleader-in-residence with the Tigers, will be out of the lineup for four to six weeks after breaking a bone in his leg during a game Tuesday night in Toronto.

“I m always loud on the plane, loud in the dugout, so I ll keep on being loud,” Young said. “I ll be this team s biggest supporter while this thing heals up. That part won t change.”

Young was injured when his cleats got caught up in the carpet at Toronto, and his move to the disabled list opened up a roster spot for Andres Torres, who got called up from Toledo before the Hens opener. The main beneficiary of the personnel shuffle will be former Mud Hen Craig Monroe.

Detroit manager Alan Trammell tabbed Monroe as the player likely to get most of Young s at-bats.

“You don t replace Dmitri Young. He s our cleanup hitter, he s a switch hitter and he s a guy who provides a lot of spark,” Trammell said. “But Craig Monroe is going to get a real opportunity here. If he can go out there and give us something - really produce - then I d expect him to be in the lineup a lot of the time.”

Monroe, who hit .240 with 23 home runs in 128 games with the Tigers last season, said he received words of encouragement from Young.

“We talked a lot in spring training about what my role was with the team, backing guys up, and this is the kind of situation that just comes up in baseball,” Monroe said. “He told me that this was my time and I should make the most of it. He showed a lot of confidence in me, and that s an exciting thing. I just want to go out there and play up to the standard that Dmitri set.”

Monroe, who had one hit in yesterday s 10-6 win over Minnesota and is hitting .429 through four games, plans to take the opportunity and run with it. He is anxious to be an active part of the Tigers hot start.

“You know there s a real different feeling in our clubhouse this year. It s a feeling of confidence,” Monroe said. “A lot of guys who ve been around here are sick of losing and they want things to change. Ever since the start of spring training the whole attitude is different.”

SECOND LARGEST: The Opening Day crowd of 42,121 at Comerica Park yesterday is the second largest in the four-plus year history of the ball park and the top Opening Day crowd. A record 44,095 saw the Tigers play the Yankees on June 1 of last year when New York starter Roger Clemens was going for career win No. 300.

ODDS & ENDS: The 4-0 Tigers lost their first nine games last season, 17 of their first 18 and 25 of the first 28. ... Yesterday was the 104th home opener in Tigers history. Detroit was 55-47-1 going into yesterday s game, including a 1-3 record at Comerica Park. ... Pitcher Fernando Rodney has a ligament sprain in his right elbow, tests have revealed. Rodney, who was 1-3 with a 6.07 ERA in 27 appearances with the Tigers last season, was to begin rehabbing the injury yesterday. ... The bottom three hitters in the Detroit lineup - Bobby Higginson, Craig Monroe and Eric Munson - had five hits and knocked in five runs.



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