Oblique keeps Young off Tigers' ALCS roster

Oblique keeps Young off Tigers' ALCS roster

Oblique keeps Young off Tigers' ALCS roster
ARLINGTON -- Delmon Young's strained left oblique will keep him out of the American League Championship Series. The Tigers made it official on Saturday, when they left Young off their roster and replaced him with infielder Danny Worth.

Young is the only change to Detroit's roster from the AL Division Series. The Tigers will stick with their rotation and seven-man bullpen with two left-handers, as manager Jim Leyland indicated they would on Friday.

Young strained his oblique on a seventh-inning popout in Thursday night's AL Division Series-clinching win at Yankee Stadium. A day after leaving that Game 5 early, Young was examined by team physician Dr. Stephen Lemos here Friday before the Tigers worked out, and Leyland sounded optimistic that Young could be available.

That changed, Leyland said, later in the day.

"We thought he was going to be all right," Leyland said Saturday. "He hit fine yesterday, wasn't too bad, then he went to the press [conference] and it stiffened up. It killed him when he raised his arm up. He had an MRI [exam] and it didn't show a whole lot, but with those obliques, you just don't know."

As Leyland suspected, it was a gameday decision. He met with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski later Friday to discuss Young's situation.

Injury uncertainties on a postseason roster carry a much bigger risk than they would in the regular season. Though a team can replace an injured player in the middle of a series, that player then has to miss the next round. So if Young had started the series and then had to be removed, he wouldn't have been eligible for the World Series.

"Under normal circumstances, you keep him on [the roster], but this is not a normal circumstance," Leyland said.

The way oblique injuries linger, there's no way to determine if Young will be ready for the World Series, either.

"I've never had luck with obliques," Leyland said. "As minor as they're supposed to be, I've never really believed in such things as minor obliques. That's my philosophy, but the trainers would totally disagree with me on that. And I understand that, because that's their business, so I'm sure they're right. But I've heard those things: 'Well, maybe tomorrow.' And then the next day, 'Well, he's not ready.' And then maybe the next day."

This way, the Tigers at least keep their options open. Getting through the ALCS without Young, however, is a far more challenging task than they would like.

Young's three home runs in the five-game ALDS set a Tigers record for any postseason series, and his right-handed power bat presented a serious problem for the Rangers' left-handed starting pitchers, including C.J. Wilson. Young batted .324 (12-for-37) with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in eight games against the Rangers, and he's a .321 hitter with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 42 games for his career against them.

Ryan Raburn, a lefty-killer himself at various times in his Tigers career and a .423 hitter (11-for-26) against the Rangers this season, took Young's spot in left field for the series opener Saturday night against Wilson.

The bigger surprise came in the batting order, where Miguel Cabrera moved up from his traditional cleanup spot to bat third. He hit there just once all season, and it was a June 17 game at Colorado where the Tigers didn't have the designated hitter spot available.

"I don't have any choice," Leyland said. "With the absence of Young and Magglio [Ordonez] protecting Victor [Martinez] better, I didn't really have much choice. Without Young, it makes it a whole different ballgame. ... It's not really what I wanted to do, but I didn't have any choice."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.