Young enjoys 'Drive in Delmon' campaign
Promotion aims to earn Final Vote win for Twins outfielder
TORONTO -- It was hard to hide the smile on Delmon Young's face Tuesday as he watched one of his teammates walk by in the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Drive in Delmon Young" sprawled across the front.It was part of the campaign by Young's teammates and the Twins organization to help the club's left fielder beat out his four competitors to become the American League winner of the All-Star Final Vote.
"I think it's pretty funny," Young said of seeing so many of his fellow players donning the shirts before the Twins' 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays in which Young went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored the winning run. "Teammates are going out and campaigning for you, going out and showing their support for you. We all support each other. If it was anyone else in the situation, we'd all be behind their backs."The Twins are trying to do whatever they can, but Young will certainly need even more support -- particularly from fans -- if he's going to make it to his first All-Star Game. Young sat in fifth place for the second consecutive day when the second ballot update in the All-Star Final Vote was released on Tuesday. Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis overtook Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher for the top spot in the race. But Young, along with Rangers third baseman Michael Young and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, had all received well over 1 million votes. It means that while the three players trail in the voting, fans can still send any of the five players to this year's All-Star Game if they can generate enough votes. The Final Vote, sponsored by Sprint, will continue until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday on MLB.com and Twinsbaseball.com, with results coming later that day. There is no limit to the number of times fans can vote, and the Twins are encouraging their fans to do so as often as they can. "It would be a wonderful thing to see [Young] go," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The organization is stepping up. The players are all talking about it, and I heard one of my coaches talking about how many times he's voted. Guys are trying to do their thing. It's pretty entertaining. I think Delmon is excited about it." The theme of the Twins' campaign is to "Drive in Delmon," and it's certainly appropriate considering the way that Young has driven in runs for the Twins at the bottom of the lineup. Young was tied with Justin Morneau for the team lead in RBIs at 56 after each drove in a run vs. the Jays, and he's a big reason why the offense has been so successful. According to Gardenhire, having a run producer like Young at the bottom of the order is something that has made the Minnesota lineup deeper this season than it has been in recent years. For Young, it's been a chance to make good on a goal that he expressed to fellow outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jacque Jones during Spring Training this year. "I told them that I just wanted to make sure I could do my part on the team and help anchor the bottom of the lineup so that the guys in front of me can do their business without opposing pitchers trying to pitch around them," Young said. "I feel like I got lucky, being able to help anchor the [Nos.] 7, 8, 9 spots in the order. With me, Jim Thome, Nick Punto and J.J. Hardy down there, it's been good for [higher hitters] in the order, since opposing pitchers know there are still guys in the bottom part of the lineup that can swing the bat." The Twins have had to be creative with their campaign for Young since the team is on the road all week, including in Toronto for the time the Final Vote is taking place. The team has been pushing the "Drive in Delmon" campaign in nearly every media outlet, including MLB.com, the Treasure Island baseball broadcasts and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The Twins' organization also e-mailed the nearly 300,000 regular users of the team's website to persuade them to join the efforts. For Young, the increased amount of attention placed on him is a little different. The 24-year-old has not been a player to shine a spotlight on himself, and he admits that he's had a difficult time trying to promote himself in such a race. "I've said before, I was caught off guard with it," Young said. "It really surprised me and everything. That's not my nature [to self-promote] and that's not the team's nature. We're a behind-the-scenes team since we're not a big-market club." Young said he has heard from plenty of family and friends since he was announced as a Final Vote candidate Sunday afternoon. Many of them live in California, where Young spent most of his youth, and others are in the South, as Young was born in Montgomery, Ala. All have pledged their support for Young, along with submitting their share of votes, and so far he's counting on them to help him pick up steam in the race. "I've been on there voting a little bit, it's kind of tiring [laughs]," Young said. "I'll let the family and friends and fans take care of that. But I'm just happy to be on the ballot. No matter where I place, it's been fun and an added perk for a week."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.