Notes: Young comes back swinging

Notes: Young comes back swinging

MINNEAPOLIS -- While some of the Tigers spent the better part of 48 hours here before taking the field, Dmitri Young was back in the Minors.

What's more, it was his choice.

Just as his rehab stint with the Mud Hens was intended to prepare him for hitting Major League pitching, he prepared for facing Twins pitching by having another session with Mud Hens hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham, the man he credits with helping him come back swinging.

"I started working with him [during the rehab stint]," Young said. "Two days into it, I got the swing going. Now it's just a preparation for this series. It's more just a refresher course. You go down there and you're forgetting something that you like to do [at the plate].

"I had the time off. What else am I going to do? Come here and go to the mall?"

Young thanks Durham for helping him get back to his frame of mind as a pure hitter rather than a slugger. He now admits that he was trying too hard to hit home runs early in the season, and it cost him bat speed. It's not that he couldn't hit fastballs anymore. It's that he wasn't allowing himself to.

"Oh, yeah," Young agreed. "Everybody was popping them out like nobody's business, and I was getting away from my approach to trying to hit them out. Next thing you know, I'm here, my bat's back [behind me]."

The change in approach was noticeable as soon as Young returned. He went 3-for-8 in his first two games back, and all three hits were singles, two of them ground balls. His first extra-base hit was his home run Monday at Cleveland, and it came two at-bats after a ground-ball single through the middle. He hit another homer Tuesday in between two singles in his other three at-bats, improving his hitting to 8-for-19 over the past week.

This weekend's series provides a new challenge. Friday's start was his first against a left-handed pitcher, and it happened to come against one of the toughest lefties in the league right now in Francisco Liriano. He'll face a similar challenge if he starts Sunday against Johan Santana.

With that kind of opposition, Young wanted to make sure he was in the right frame of mind. Visiting Durham isn't meant as a slight to current hitting coach Don Slaught, but as a way to remind himself of what Durham was teaching him during his rehab assignment.

"He put me in the same frame of mind I've been in since I came up," he said. "That's why [president/general manager Dave] Dombrowski had me go to Triple-A, to work with Bull. Because Bull gets you in the frame of mind for hitting, not to mention, Bull's familiar with pretty much everybody here."

Pudge out again: Ivan Rodriguez's sore right thumb hadn't improved since Wednesday, despite the off-day, so he was out of the lineup for a second straight game Friday. Like Wednesday, Craig Monroe batted third in his place, while Vance Wilson took over behind the plate.

X-ray results taken Tuesday night were negative, suggesting no break.

"Hopefully he plays [Saturday]," manager Jim Leyland said.

The soreness, Rodriguez said, is at the tip of the thumb. Leyland said Wednesday that Rodriguez injured it when he was hit by a bat in the indoor batting cage.

Gomez back in Toledo: Outfielder Alexis Gomez, whose contract was designated for assignment Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted Friday to Triple-A Toledo. He was expected to be in action Friday night for the Mud Hens.

To make room for Gomez on the Hens' roster, outfielder Tike Redman was released. He was batting .253 in 79 games this season with a home run, 13 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. However, he hit .235 in 50 July at-bats with no home runs or RBIs.

All aboard: The Tigers, Olympia Development, Amtrak and DDOT are inviting fans to climb aboard the Foxtown Tigers Train for select Saturday night home games in August and September.

The train, reminiscent of Detroit's streetcars of the early 1900s, will pick up passengers at the Amtrak stops in Pontiac, Birmingham and Royal Oak en route to the Wayne State/New Center station. From there, passengers will head to Comerica Park on Tigers Trolleys supplied by DDOT.

The $29 ticket package includes the round trip in air-conditioned train cars as well as outfield box tickets, food vouchers, ex-Tiger player appearances and gift giveaways. They'll be available for Tigers games on Aug. 5 against Cleveland, Aug. 19 versus Texas, Sept. 16 against Baltimore and Sept. 30 versus Kansas City.

Tickets are on sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. To order, or for more information, call 313-983-6565.

Sutter remembered: How long has Leyland been involved in managing? He remembers managing against Bruce Sutter when he was an average Minor League pitcher in Peoria in 1972.

"He was an ordinary guy," Leyland said. "Came up with the split and the rest is history."

Sutter will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. Leyland called him a deserving inductee, and an example how much of an effect the split-fingered pitch has had on the game.

"That pitch has changed the game a lot," Leyland said. "Throughout my experience, the first thing that every hitter wants to know when you go over a meeting and you talk about pitchers they haven't seen: 'Do they have a split?' I think that pretty much sums it up. And I really don't know why that's such a big factor, because when they throw it right, you can't hit it."

Coming up: The Tigers and Twins clash again Saturday night with a 7:10 p.m. ET game at the Metrodome. Nate Robertson (9-6, 3.70 ERA) will try to keep Minnesota's offense stymied and give the Tigers a chance to hand Twins starter Brad Radke (9-7, 4.74 ERA) his first loss since June 3.

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