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Published: Wednesday, 10/12/2011

Muscle injury benches Tigers' Young

Leyland unsure of outfielder's future status

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Detroit's Delmon Young jogs onto the field before Game 2 of the ALCS on Monday. A muscle injury kept him out of Game 3 last night. Detroit's Delmon Young jogs onto the field before Game 2 of the ALCS on Monday. A muscle injury kept him out of Game 3 last night.
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DETROIT -- The on-again, off-again saga of Delmon Young was off again last night. He was scratched from Detroit manager Jim Leyland's original lineup for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against Texas at Comerica Park because of an oblique muscle injury.

"Delmon is obviously hurting too bad to play," Leyland said a couple hours before the game. "It stiffened up. It's really sore today. I'm not going into any further detail. I'm not a doctor. But he's hurting. I respect that. If Delmon Young is not in the lineup, believe me, he's hurting, because he loves to play."

Young was the Tigers' big bat in their American League Division Series victory over the New York Yankees. He hit three solo home runs, including what proved to be the game-winner in Game 4 after the Yankees had tied the game with a late-inning rally off Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

He re-aggravated the oblique muscle during a plate appearance in Game 5, however, and was originally left off the Tigers' roster for the series against Texas. But when fellow outfielder Magglio Ordonez suffered an ankle fracture after going 5-for-13 in the Yankee series, Young was reactivated.

He went 0-for-4 in his first ALCS appearance Monday in Game 2.

"He was hurting in some instances, but not so bad that he couldn't swing pretty good," Leyland said. "Certainly, he wasn't right. He wasn't 100 per cent."

Andy Dirks replaced Young in last night's lineup and batted ninth. To compensate for the loss of Young, who normally bats third, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez each jumped one spot in the order to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

Left-handed starters are scheduled for Texas in Games 4 and 5, but Leyland wouldn't speculate about the availability of Young, a right-handed hitter.

"Could he be ready?" Leyland said, repeating a question. "It's a great question. I don't really know how to answer it. I'm not a medical person."

ZUMAYA SIGHTING: Tigers relief pitcher Joel Zumaya made his first visit to the clubhouse this season before Game 3. He underwent surgery for an elbow fracture on March 30 and has been on the disabled list ever since. He spent three months after the surgery with his family in California and said he has been working out at the Tigers' complex in Lakeland, Fla., since mid-July.

"I want to say I feel terrible [because] each time I say I feel good I end up hurt," Zumaya said. "The ball is coming out easier than I've ever thrown. I'm throwing with less effort than I used to; more velocity too. I've been working on some pretty good change-ups and breaking balls. I'll have more than one pitch. Everything has fallen into place."

Zumaya, who turns 27 next month, was a hard-throwing rookie sensation as the Tigers marched into the World Series in 2006. He was 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA while working in 62 games, but has been on the disabled list every season since with shoulder, elbow, and finger ailments.

Zumaya will become a free agent when the Tigers' season ends. He said the team has not discussed the future with him.

"No one has spoken to me," Zumaya said. "If the Tigers want to go ahead and talk and do something, I'm ready. I don't feel like going anywhere else. I started here and I wish I could end here. I don't know where I'm going to end up next year, [but] I love this place."

YANKEE-LIKE: Rick Porcello and other Tigers pitchers spoke often during the ALDS of how tough the Yankees' lineup was from top to bottom. Porcello, who is scheduled to start today's Game 4 against Texas, said yesterday the Rangers just might be better.

"I think the Rangers' lineup is a little bit deeper," he said. "One through nine, they have guys that can hurt you. You really have to be on your game and you have to focus on every pitch because they've got guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. It's a good lineup. You have to be on your toes for these guys."

Porcello (14-9, 4.75 ERA, regular season) will face Rangers' lefty Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) in today's 4:19 p.m. start.

MUSEUM QUALITY: The batting gloves Texas' Nelson Cruz was wearing when he hit the first walk-off grand slam home run in postseason history on Monday are headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

THREE LEFT: The Tigers are bidding for a return to the World Series, in which they last appeared in 2006. Only three players on the active Detroit roster -- Brandon Inge, Justin Verlander, and infielder Ramon Santiago -- were on the 2006 team.

BIGGEST STAR: There were plenty of stars on the field at Comerica Park last night, but none brighter than the lady who sang the National Anthem -- Motown legend Aretha Franklin.

QUOTE-UNQUOTE: Leyland before the start of last night's Game 3: "I hate to say this [because] it probably sounds terrible. It's been a great series so far. It just hasn't worked out in our favor at any point."



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