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Young thriving in reserve role for Yankees

Outfielder hits crucial solo shot in win against Tigers

DETROIT -- Chris Young re-signed with the Yankees this offseason to be their fourth outfielder, a role that comes with no promise of regular playing time or consistent at-bats.

But Young has made the case for more of both so far this season, and he continued to do so in the Yankees' 5-2 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night.

Young got on base in each of his five plate appearances, finishing 3-for-3 with a double, two walks and a key home run in the seventh inning.

"That's the way the game works. If you're finding a way to help the team, normally you'll find a way into the lineup," Young said. "Wherever I'm at, if I'm bouncing around the outfield, it doesn't really matter to me. It's about trying to be productive and trying to get to the playoffs."

With the Yankees leading by one run in the seventh inning, Young swatted a leadoff shot to left field off Tigers reliever Ian Krol. Shortstop Stephen Drew followed Young's solo shot with one of his own later in the inning to give the Yankees a three-run lead.

Video: [email protected]: Drew gives Yanks 3-0 lead with solo shot

Those homers tied Young and Drew with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira for the team lead, with four each. The Yankees lead the Majors with 20 homers, and they view it as an encouraging sign that they're not all coming from the middle of the order.

"That's really big, because when you're getting home runs from everywhere in the lineup, you're going to score runs pretty consistently," manager Joe Girardi said. "We got it again tonight."

The "again" seems particularly true in Young's case. He's hitting .344 (11-for-32) this season with an .844 slugging percentage. Of those 11 hits, eight have gone for extra bases -- four doubles, four home runs.

Injuries and illnesses to other players have provided Young with more regular playing time to this point than some might have expected heading into the season. Receiving fill-in starts and unexpected at-bats is never an easy assignment, but Young has picked up where he left off last year and thrived in that role so far.

Young said he tries to stay prepared, doing extra work whenever possible to sharpen his eye and maintain his timing at the plate.

"He's just ready to play. He's a professional, and he knows what his job is," Girardi said. "He's ready to play every day."

Young will be in the lineup when the Yanks face Tigers ace David Price on Wednesday night. At this point, he's practically forcing Girardi to find a spot for him.

"He's playing so well for us," Girardi said. "He really is."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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