October 20th, 2012

Delmon Young will start in left field in Game 1

Aside from the big three of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson, the Tigers struggled to find a better run producer in Interleague Play than Delmon Young, who hit .308 (20-for-65) with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs against the National League.

The one exception might be Quintin Berry, whose hot hitting upon arrival coincided with the National League portion of the schedule. He batted .314 (11-for-35) with a home run, five RBIs and seven runs scored in Interleague.

Berry has seen a late-season revival as the primary left fielder against right-handed starting pitchers since September. Young has been a postseason hero at DH, collecting an ALCS MVP award along the way.

Come Wednesday, whether the Tigers open up the World Series that night in St. Louis or San Francisco, they won’t have the DH. Leyland cleared up the confusion over who would play.

“The plan right now is to play him in left field for the first game,” Jim Leyland said. “I think it’s pretty hard to [sit him], the way he’s been swinging the bat. He’s the MVP of the American League Championship Series, and swinging the bat as well as he is, it would be pretty hard not to play him.”

Young batted 6-for-17 (.353) in the ALCS with two home runs and six RBIs. He drove in the winning run in all four games.

Young’s defense in left field needs no introduction. It might, however, need a refresher course over the next few days, because his playing time in the outfield since the All-Star break consists of a handful of games in late August and early September while Miguel Cabrera’s bad ankle limited him for a spell.

The Tigers worked out Saturday before playing scrimmage games against minor leaguers from their fall instructional league Sunday and Monday. Leyland said Young will get some outfield time over the next couple days.

As for who sits, it depends on who the Tigers face. The Cardinals do not have a left-hander in their rotation, so either Andy Dirks or Quintin Berry (who had been playing left) will start in right field. The Giants have lefty starters in Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner. In that scenario, Leyland would have to decide whether to go with the productive right-handed bat of rookie Avisail Garcia, or the more experienced left-handed bat of Dirks.