Phillies Delmon Young offers no timetable for return
CLEARWATER, Fla. — As the Phillies assembled Friday morning at Bright House Field for the first full batting practice of spring training, Delmon Young sauntered down the left-field line. He sought refuge in a covered batting cage with a coach, away from the action, his likely station for weeks to come.
When the Phillies signed Young three weeks ago, Ruben Amaro Jr. said "ideally" he would man right field for them. But Young underwent microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November and his availability is in doubt.
The outfielder reported to camp Friday and would not offer a timetable for return.
"The ankle is feeling good, but I'm not a doctor," Young said. "So when the doctor tells me when everything will be ready, I'll be out there. I'm not going to put any date on it."
Could he miss the start of the season?
"I have no clue," Young said.
Upon signing Young for $750,000, Amaro said he could start the season on the disabled list. On Friday, manager Charlie Manuel said it could be "a while" before Young is at his disposal. Young has not played right field since 2007.
If Young spends one day on the active 25-man roster, he will receive a $250,000 bonus, essentially making the deal worth $1 million.
It only complicates a muddled outfield picture.
Young is limited to taking batting practice and playing catch. He did not run during stretches Friday.
The 27-year-old former No. 1 pick was primarily a designated hitter in Detroit last season, and his conditioning was criticized. When he took his physical three weeks ago in Philadelphia, Young said he weighed 238 pounds.
He would not disclose his weight Friday.
"I don't really go on the scale that much," Young said. "I just see what clothes fit and see if I can go on the beach."
Young has incentive to lose weight; the Phillies will weigh him during 2013 at six times of their choosing. If he is 230 pounds or lighter for the first three weigh-ins, he receives a $100,000 bonus each time. The final three thresholds are 235 pounds.
Michael Young at ease. Michael Young was a man who thought he found a home and would spend forever there. On the day he was traded from Texas, his boss said, "If there were crying in baseball, I guess I'd cry."
Young entered the Phillies clubhouse for the first time Friday morning and saw familiarity. He high-fived Jaxon Lee, son of Cliff, who was a teammate for half a season. He hugged Jonathan Papelbon, with whom he played in the World Baseball Classic three years ago.
He settled in the corner of the room before TV cameras gravitated.
"I don't expect it to be difficult at all," Young said. "The fact that I came to the Phillies makes it easier, actually. It would be one thing if I went to a team that I knew would have a tough time to win or if it was a situation where I wasn't familiar with the surroundings, but this isn't entirely different. I know a lot of the guys here. I knew the second I got to spring training I'd be able to hit the ground running."
Young cited that familiarity as a reason for waiving his no-trade clause and leaving home. Yes, he is still a Dallas Cowboys fan. Yes, he is excited for a new challenge.
Following the trade, he structured his workouts to involve more time at third base, a position he has not played regularly since 2010. Young craved stability in Texas and caused controversy when he resisted a position change.
It required a trade to find that stability after a career-worst .682 OPS. Young said he made his message clear to his new boss, Charlie Manuel.
"He's going to get effort from me every night," Young said. "As for the way last year went and moving forward, nothing really exceeds my own expectations of my own standards. Those are the things I tend to focus on."
Extra bases. The Phillies will play an intrasquad game Friday at Bright House Field at noon that is free and open to the public. They open their Grapefruit League schedule against Houston the next day. ... First-base coach Juan Samuel will leave camp in early March to serve as third-base coach for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Contact Matt Gelb at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.