Notes: Young back in action

Notes: Young back in action

MINNEAPOLIS -- The season begins now. That's how Dmitri Young feels about his game.

Between a strained left quad that sidelined him for part of Spring Training and a strained right quad that kept him out the last three weeks, Young doesn't have many more leg muscles to tweak. But he said Friday afternoon that he feels, in many ways, like he's in as good or better shape now than when he began the season.

"I did more stuff on the DL than when I was playing," Young said. "I'd get in at 2 o'clock and work until 7 p.m. I was tired. I'm serious, I was worn out. I was doing all that running and all the preparation to go out on the field and take BP and then come in and do treatment. I was gassed by 7 o'clock, and then I'd go down and watch the game. That's why I say I worked harder on the DL than playing."

For that reason, Young has no problem coming back off the DL and onto the artificial turf of the Metrodome. The only hesitancy he'll have taking an extra base, he said, "is if Torii Hunter cuts the ball off and gets it back into the infield."

Young batted eighth Friday in his first big-league game since April 14, but manager Jim Leyland indicated that was more a matter of everyone else ahead of him hitting well than any attempt to ease him back into action. Leyland's happy with Carlos Guillen in the fifth spot and wanted to keep Chris Shelton and Craig Monroe sixth and seventh, respectively.

Young said he has no problem with that. Nor does he flinch from Leyland saying he needs to produce.

"Production means getting hits, getting on base, getting the runner over if needed, getting them in -- in other words, just playing the game," Young said.

Polanco day-to-day: Just when the Tigers regained Young's services Friday, they gained another question mark. Second baseman Placido Polanco was out of Friday's lineup with a sore back that has become a recurring problem.

Polanco said his back has bothered him for the last 3-4 weeks.

"It's been really tight for a while," he said. "It got worse. I don't know what to tell you. I don't know why it's like that. When I stretch, I feel something pinching."

The pinching feeling goes all the way up and down his back, so it's not a localized problem. Add in the turf here, and it was enough to convince Polanco to take a day and work through it. He said some therapy and exercises already have him feeling better, and he hopes to start Saturday.

Not down with OBP: Though Leyland said he wants to see fewer strikeouts from Curtis Granderson, he said he isn't judging his leadoff hitter based on on-base percentage.

"I'm not big on OBP as much as other people," he said. "I'm big on slugging percentage."

That goes even for a leadoff hitter, which works in Granderson's favor. His .429 slugging percentage entering Friday ranked 10th out of 22 Major League leadoff hitters with enough at-bats to qualify, despite a .248 batting average that ranked 17th.

Granderson went 4-for-26 over the Tigers' last homestand, with three of those hits coming in last Saturday's 18-1 win over the Twins. He struck out nine times in those seven games.

"He's going to have to cut them down if he's going to make improvement," Leyland said. "I'd still like to see him have a little better two-strike approach."

Four more years: The national attention for the Tigers continued with a lengthy piece on Leyland in Friday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The story said Leyland would like to manage for five more years. If so, he would be 66 by the time he retired.

It's one of the first times Leyland has tagged a specific timeframe to his managerial tenure, and he didn't back down from it Friday. Instead, he expanded on it.

"I'd like to do it at least five," Leyland said, "but that's putting the cart way before the horse. I'm 61 now. I feel good. I work out. I lift weights. I have a lot of energy and I really like what I'm doing, and I like to do it.

"I'd like to do it for at least five years, but I want to get through my first one first. After 20 games, I'm not looking for an extension, I can tell you that."

Another zero for Mantei: Matt Mantei pitched another scoreless inning for Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, though it wasn't as smooth as the stats would indicate. He missed the strike zone on his first six pitches and eight of his first 10, prompting a visit from Mud Hens pitching coach Jeff Jones, before getting a double-play ground ball on a 3-1 pitch following two walks.

Mantei had a similar outing Friday, working two-thirds of an inning with an unearned run while walking three. One of those walks was intentional. Of the 26 pitches he threw, 10 were strikes.

Frazier, Garcia earn kudos: The Tigers named Lakeland outfielder Jeff Frazier and West Michigan right-hander Ramon Garcia as their April Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Frazier batted .293 for the month with six doubles, five home runs, 22 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 24 games. Garcia went 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA in five starts for the Whitecaps.

Coming up: The Tigers and Twins continue their weekend series with a 7:10 p.m. ET matchup at the Metrodome on Saturday. Jeremy Bonderman (3-2, 3.99 ERA) will start for Detroit opposite Scott Baker (1-3, 4.40 ERA). The game will be broadcast on FSN Detroit.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.