Spring training is often a poor indicator of how a player’s season will unfold. Dmitri Young provided more evidence of that with his opening day performance.
Young went 4-for-4 and matched a career high with five RBIs in the Tigers’ 11-2 win over the Royals on Monday.
He did not hit a home run in 46 at-bats during spring training.
“You never see those stats on the back of a bubble gum card,” Young said.
Young, a .293 hitter over his nine-plus seasons, hit a career-high 29 homers two years ago when Detroit lost an AL-record 119 games. Young insisted he’s not trying to hit homers this season.
“I’m a .300 hitter,” he said. “I think about getting hits.”
Just two seasons removed from that record-setting year for futility, the Tigers are a team looking to contend in the AL Central. Magglio Ordonez’s bat and an improved bullpen, led by free-agent acquisition Troy Percival, are expected to boost Detroit’s chances.
Ordonez, the only player given a standing ovation before his first at-bat Monday, went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run, and Percival pitched a perfect ninth.
“When you put a little money into it, you get some quality ballplayers,” Young said.
Ugueth Urbina allowed one run in one inning, his first time pitching since he left the team on Sept. 1 after his mother was kidnapped in Venezuela. She was rescued five months later.
Detroit’s win came against a team expected to be among baseball’s worst.
The Royals, who lost a franchise-worst 104 games last year, returned just eight players from their 2004 opening day roster.
“It’s too quiet in here,” Lima said. “No one died. We still have 161 games left.”
The Royals’ bullpen wasn’t any better, as three pitchers combined to give up five runs in five innings.
STANDINGS (through April 4): Royals - 3rd place (tied), 1 GB, AL Central. Tigers - 1st place (tied), AL Central.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Runelvys Hernandez (7-5, 4.61 ERA). Hernandez is making his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2003. That season, Hernandez won his first four decisions, making him the first pitcher to reach four victories, and had a 1.36 ERA. The right-hander lost his next three decisions after that 4-0 start, then went on the disabled list for 42 games with a sore elbow before returning in mid-July. Doctors discovered a partial tear in his right ulnar tendon, and Hernandez underwent surgery in September. He is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in two career starts against Detroit.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Mike Maroth (11-13, 4.31 ERA). The left-hander showed promise last season after going 9-21 in 2003 to become the first pitcher since 1980 to lose 20 games. Maroth set career highs in wins, ERA and innings pitched (217) in 2004. He has a 3.88 ERA in 42 starts at Comerica Park, and is 6-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 13 starts against Kansas City.
SEASON SERIES: Tigers, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - SS Angel Berroa is batting .414 (12-for-29) with two HRs, a triple, four doubles and six RBIs against Maroth. … Kansas City is 14-9 in Detroit since 2002. … OF Eli Marrero hit .415 (44-for-106) against left-handers for Atlanta last season. Tigers - C Ivan Rodriguez is batting .438 (60-for-137) against Kansas City since 1999. … OF Bobby Higginson, replaced by Ordonez, did not start on opening day for the first time since 1995. … Ordonez is batting .329 with 22 HRs, 28 doubles and 78 RBIs against Kansas City.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 0-1 on the road; Tigers - 1-0 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - 3B Chris Truby (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Sullivan (back), 15-day DL. Tigers - RHP Colby Lewis (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Fernando Rodney (shoulder), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 60-day DL.