TORONTO -- Delmon Young provided big production for the Tigers during last year's postseason, belting five homers with a .954 OPS. It helped earn him a one-year deal with Detroit as the team's primary designated hitter.
Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, has been sporadic offensively this season. But skipper Jim Leyland has seen some positive signs out of the 26-year-old lately.
Entering play on Saturday, Young was batting .270 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs. His on-base percentage, however, is just .298. But for a player who is known as a free-swinger who doesn't draw walks, the fact that he has walked in three consecutive games for the first time since last April is somewhat encouraging to Leyland.
"It's a sign that he's not swinging at as many bad pitches," Leyland said.
Leyland's also hoping that Young can help out Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the order a little bit more.
With Austin Jackson, Quintin Berry, Cabrera and Fielder hitting in front of him, there should be plenty of opportunities for Young to cash them in.
"He has done better. We need Delmon to knock in runs, it's that simple," Leyland said. "He's in that five-hole, that's a good RBI spot. That's a pretty good RBI spot, particularly with what's in front [of him in the lineup]."
Berry, meanwhile, in his rookie season at the age of 27, has made the most of his opportunity and has certainly caught Leyland's eye.
The outfielder, who is hitting .291 with two homers, 22 RBIs and a .371 OBP, had to put in many years in the Minors before getting his opportunity. But Leyland is not surprised he has stepped up and delivered.
"He has done fantastic. I'm a big believer that's it's probably easier, the talent is better, but it is probably easier to hit in the big leagues -- in some ways. Travel is better, ballparks are better, the lighting is better, pitchers have better control.
"He has stayed within himself for the most part. When he has had the good games, he just lays the bat on the ball and hits it all over the place."