Perhaps it was the rampant speculation about his release and perhaps it was simply a matter of finding his swing, but Chris Young came through with a clutch performance for the New York Mets last night.
It was clutch for the Mets, but it was also clutch for Young. A Mets beat reporter caught wind of a pending decision about Young’s future with New York, specifically that the team was on the verge of releasing Young. It’s a move that would coincide with the return of Juan Lagares from the disabled list, tentatively scheduled for this Thursday. The Mets flatly denied this rumor, but what team would confirm something like this before it actually happens? If it is true, then Young made their decision harder with his performance against the Oakland A’s.
Facing his former team, Young went deep twice and nearly became the first Met to hit three home runs at Citi Field when he flied out to the wall later in the game. Young took advantage of two pitches he should have hit hard. The first homer came off a change-up over the outer half of the plate and at the knees. The next long ball was the result of Young pouncing on a biteless curveball over the heart of the plate, also at the knees. These are both pitches that are in Young’s wheelhouse, but to his credit, he’d been missing them before.
The 30-year-old outfielder worked with Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew during the offseason to shorten his swing. So far this year, however, his swing has been long and loopy, resulting in a lot of strikeouts and weak fly balls. Last night, however, his swing was crisp, short to the ball and long through.
If he can keep swinging the bat like that, he’ll force the Mets to keep him around and he could turn into a Scott Hairston type of hitter — an outfielder who mashes lefties. But one game does not a turnaround make. He’s still hitting just 209/.293/.352 with six homers. He still has more to prove if he wants to remain in the Mets’ plans.