Delwyn Young, the switch-hitting outfielder the Pirates acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday for two minor league players to be named or cash considerations, summed up his feelings rather tidily shortly after being informed.
"I'm relieved," he said from his California home. "Not surprised."
Young ascended through Los Angeles' system with good potential, then led the Dodgers with 14 pinch-hits last season. But he never was likely to break through an outfield that includes Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, nor a bench that was nearly as deep.
As Young put it, "There really wasn't an opportunity with the Dodgers."
Out of options, Los Angeles designated him for assignment Tuesday and reached agreement with the Pirates early yesterday morning. The Pirates had been eyeing Young for months, as he was part of the trade talks between the same teams regarding Jack Wilson over the offseason, and they continued scouting him last week during a rehabilitation assignment -- he spent the offseason recovering from surgery to correct a right elbow impingement -- with Class AAA Albuquerque.
"It's another weapon for John Russell off the bench," general manager Neal Huntington said. "It's an intriguing bat. We've liked the bat for a long time."
Young has batted .267 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 110 major league games over three seasons. He entered last season rated as the Dodgers' No. 9 prospect by Baseball America, this after batting .337 with 17 home runs, 97 RBIs and 54 doubles -- a Pacific Coast League record -- for Class AAA Las Vegas in 2007.
"Yes, it's the PCL, but those are still pretty good numbers," Huntington said.
"He was considered at one point to be the best hitter anywhere in the minors," Russell said.
Young will play primarily in the corner outfield spots, but he also has extensive history at second base. The Pirates will try him out at the latter and, if that goes well, at third, too.
Huntington and Young each said the elbow is fine, Young calling it "picture-perfect."
Young is expected to join the Pirates tomorrow, at which point another player -- almost surely utilityman Luis Cruz -- will be demoted to Class AAA Indianapolis. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the team designated Indianapolis reliever Dave Davidson for assignment.
Young's salary is $406,000, and he cannot qualify for arbitration until after the 2010 season. That means the Pirates have his rights for this year, plus four more.
The Pirates are not expected to give up any top prospects in the trade.
Shortstop Jack Wilson was a late scratch from the lineup last night against Houston because of a bruised middle finger on his left hand, injured in a Monday at-bat. He was replaced by Ramon Vazquez.
Wilson is expected to play this afternoon, so the injury is thought to be minor.
• Davidson, a left-hander who will turn 25 next week, had a 4.15 ERA in three appearances with Indianapolis and never has come close to fulfilling his potential. The Pirates have 10 days to trade, waive or release him, and they are expected to put him through waivers.
• The Pirates faced a left-hander for the first time in Houston's Mike Hampton, and right-handed hitting Craig Monroe finally got his first start. Still carrying that hot bat that produced eight home runs in the spring? "Nope," he replied. "That wasn't the bat. That was me."
• Jeff Karstens will make his season debut today after not making a regular start since early in the final week of spring training. Russell said he will not have a pitch limit, and Karstens did not sound worried. "I'm athletic enough to handle it," he said.