For Dmitri Young, coming back to Detroit "was a must"
The "new" guy in the Tigers' clubhouse Tuesday needed no introduction as, one by one, the players who were around in 2006 -- and several who weren't -- hurried over to hug Dmitri Young. "Hey, Mickey Mouse, how you doin'?" Young exclaimed as Carlos Guillen approached, wearing a big grin between his ears.
For Young, who left Detroit under a dark cloud when he was suddenly and unexpectedly handed his unconditional release minutes after the conclusion of a game on Sept. 6, 2006, it is a new beginning.
"You've got to have peace with yourself -- and I do," declared Young, who accepted a job this spring as the vice-president of the Oakland County Cruisers in the independent Frontier League.
It was a way to get his foot back into baseball's door. But for Dmitri Young, it was much more.
"For me, coming back here was a must," said Young, as he leaned back into a locker reserved for Hall of Famer Al Kaline, his hands clasped behind his head.
"I didn't leave here the way anyone wants to leave," admitted Young, who joined the Tigers in 2002 and had the second-longest continuous tenure on the team when he was abruptly let go amidst of flurry of stories and speculation about his off-the-field conduct.
"People make mistakes," he continued. "The thing is how you bounce back from it. I figured this was the perfect place for me to come back and start over. This is the place that gave me a chance to become a star.
"I don't know what my exact title is. I would call if 'jack-of-all-trades.' You could say consultant. Or mentor."
Young said he has "a three-year plan." His ultimate goal is to get back to the big leagues
"I want to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the game -- and make myself a commodity," explained the slugger who retired after 13 seasons in the majors with a .292 lifetime average, including 171 home runs and 683 RBI.
What then? Young was asked.
"Maybe a front office executive," he replied with a smile. "Maybe a broadcaster behind the mike. Maybe a renown hitting coach."
Young, now 36, did not play last season because of injuries. He also lost his mother, who died of pancreatic cancer.
"That was my crutch, that forced me to grow up," he said. "Something like that forces you to look at things a little different that you did in the past."