Friday, February 25, 2000

Young fed up with trade rumors




BY TIM SULLIVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[young]
'They're trying to get me over to the American League but I don't want to go.'
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        SARASOTA, Fla. — Dmitri Young was late with his laundry. As the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse crew gathered uniforms for post-practice cleaning Thursday afternoon, the left fielder's finery was nowhere to be found.

        An all-points bulletin reached Young as he dawdled at a picnic table outside the building.

        “They want the jersey,” Michael Tucker told his teammate. “They're going to bronze it or something.”

        “Unstitch the last name on the back?” Young asked.

        The Ken Griffey Jr. deal is done, but trade rumors continue to resonate in Redsland. Jack McKeon's starting pitching is still perilously thin, and his outfield remains ominously overpopulated. Dmitri Young wants in, but worries that he's headed out. The amiable switch-hitter twice has hit .300 for the Reds but thus far has failed to become a fixture.

[young]
(AP photo)
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        “They're trying to get me over to the American League, but I don't want to go,” Young said. “I'm fed up with the head games. I can't take any more of that crap.”

        If the Reds' season started this afternoon, Young would be in left field, hitting sixth for the home team. But Opening Day is more than five weeks away, and Reds General Manager Jim Bowden is still scouring the globe for available arms. Young has been dangled in so many deals this winter

        and surfaced in so many unsubstantiated rumors, that he finally asked agent Tom Reich this week to separate the facts from the fiction.

        Reich called Bowden, who subsequently sought out Young in the Reds' clubhouse to offer a qualified vote of confidence. “He told me, "There's nothing going on with trade talks. You're not going anywhere,'” Young said.

        Bowden declined to discuss the specifics of the conversation but explained that changing circumstances prevent him from issuing broad guarantees to players who might be moved later. When he says, “There's nothing going on,” the statement may pertain only to that particular moment.

        “You never know,” Bowden said, “what trade opportunities you can get 10 minutes later.”

        Bowden's dream scenario in the Seattle deal was to get Griffey without giving up Mike Cameron. He wanted to shift Cameron from center field to right field, place Dante Bichette in left and use Young either as trade material or bench strength.

        Cameron's inclusion in the trade left Young in left field. Brett Tomko's inclusion left the Reds low on established start ers and left Young lingering on the Reds' expendable list.

        He has been mentioned to Minnesota in the mating dance for Brad Radke. He has been shopped to Kansas City in connection with Jose Rosado. With the Griffey deal done, the Reds have focused their energies on finding another starter.

        “You're going to have to give up a lot to get a good one,” McKeon said Thursday. “But if it's a good one, I'd make it.”

        Starting pitching is so scarce that the Atlanta Braves are taking another look at Steve Avery. Ramiro Mendoza, who can't crack the New York Yankees' rotation, has become a commodity.

        News that Darryl Strawberry tested positive for cocaine, and probably faces a long suspension, reheated speculation that the Yankees might be in the market for an experienced bat, with Mendoza as bait. During Yankees manager Joe Torre's brief reign in St.Louis, Young was a first-round draft choice of the Cardinals.

        “Torre's been trying to get me for a long time,” Young said. “For the brief time I was up (with the Cardinals), he always said I was a big-league player.”

        He is, beyond question, a big-league hitter. But Young's beefy build and below-average speed suggest a designated hitter rather than a sleek outfielder. Bowden's continued infatuation with Deion Sanders — two years since his last official plate appearance — suggests a disguised agenda.

        “To this day, I don't know what that's about,” Young said. “When they first signed him, I thought, "Here we go again.' I just thought to myself, "I may never get 600 at-bats with this team. I may never get to show my stuff. ...

        “If Jim feels Deion serves more of a purpose on this team than I do, that's just the way he feels. Deion has so much to offer. He's a very positive force in the clubhouse. But you can't translate that as being the starting left fielder. I've dedicated pretty much my whole life to this.”

        Taking batting practice Thursday, Young heard Bowden refer to him as, “the most underrated bat in camp.” He said he would take the compliment for what it was worth. What that was, he couldn't say.

        Enquirer columnist Tim Sullivan welcomes your E-mail at tsullivan@enquirer.com.

       



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