Notes: Young settling in at plate
Owings close to return; Hudson keeps focus on team
PHOENIX -- Although center fielder Chris Young has been struggling with the Mendoza Line early in the 2007 season, there are signs of life in the rookie's bat.Young thinks so, manager Bob Melvin thinks so, and scouts that follow the team think so as well. Coming up through the Minors, Young has traditionally been a slow starter at the plate, taking a little bit to settle in at the plate at his new level before getting into a groove. "I think that was the case in the Minors," said Young, "but here I feel like I've been hitting the ball better this year than I did in Double-A or Triple-A at the start. I feel like I've been hitting the ball hard, and I just can't find a hole." "I thought early in the season he was a little too tentative," said one scout that follows the team. "He was trying to go too much to right field and show he can hit the other way, and it made him a little tentative on the fastball." "Maybe a little bit," admits Young. "I was just trying to hit the ball where it was pitched. I think I got away from my aggressive nature a little bit and was maybe thinking a little too much." "He's definitely relaxed a lot more, and he's reacting to the ball and centering it better now," said the scout. Melvin has shown enough confidence in Young to bat him in the leadoff spot in the last six games. "He's getting better swings and taking a few more pitches," said the manager. Young is just trying to keep his approach simple. "Mark Grace told me you're having good at-bats when you're swinging at strikes and not chasing balls," said Young. "Sometimes it's as simple as that. That's all you can do, and the results will come." Owings update: Micah Owings, on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, threw five scoreless innings, striking out seven, in a rehab start at Tucson on Friday night. "Early on, the pitch count ran up a bit, but I settled in and I felt pretty good," said Owings. "I didn't know what to expect because I don't think I've ever missed a start before. Overall, I was pleased." Owings also had a hit and had to run the bases, which is how he injured the hamstring in the first place. "I was just trying to take it easy out there, but it felt fine," said the rookie right-hander. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, and the D-backs will have a decision to make as Edgar Gonzalez is tentatively scheduled to pitch that day. "We'll make the decision at that time," said Melvin. A humble O-Dog: Orlando Hudson is not one for self-promotion. Even though he put up a career year offensively for the D-backs last season, not to mention winning the Gold Glove, and is off to the best start of his career in this campaign, Hudson refuses to talk about his individual accomplishments and instead wants to take the time to discuss how he sees the team as a whole has been improving lately after going through a five-game losing streak. "I think everyone, whether you were a veteran or a rookie, was trying to do something extra instead of staying within themselves," said the second baseman. "When things aren't going well, you can sometimes get out of your game and try and do too much, and I think everyone, especially the younger guys, has been doing a better job of just playing their game." Hudson has reached base via hit or walk in every game this season and is the only regular who has yet to receive a day off. Minor matters: Jamie D'Antona continues to light it up at Triple-A Tucson. The third baseman is hitting .425 over the first 21 games with more walks than strikeouts and a .644 slugging percentage. Outfielder Jeff Salazar is hitting .379 with four homers and 11 extra-base hits there as well. Quick hits: Stephen Drew returned to the starting lineup Sunday after missing a game with a mild groin pull. ... The Arizona Cardinals' first-round pick in this weekend's NFL draft, offensive tackle Levi Brown, threw out the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Brown was selected fifth overall. ... The D-backs are a perfect 9-0 when holding a lead after seven innings this season, and 11-0 after eight. Up next: The D-backs head on the road for short three-game trip to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers on Monday. Last year's National League Cy Young Award winner, Brandon Webb, will take the mound. He'll be opposed by Dodgers southpaw Randy Wolf. First pitch at Dodger Stadium is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. MST.
Jason Grey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.