LOS ANGELES - Everyone has to start somewhere, but no one — Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds — has started like Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young.
Young raised the bar for every major leaguer to follow when he became the first rookie to have 30 home runs and 25 stolen bases by getting one of each in San Francisco earlier this week.
“I’m having a blast,” said Young, who turned 24 on Sept. 5.
Like most things, however, the numbers do not faze Young, who has been the same guy while going through the peaks and valleys of his first full season while hitting .237 and playing above-average defense.
“I don’t get too high or too low,” Young said. “If you go out there and give it all every day, everything will come in time. I try to keep a keep a relaxed attitude and have fun. And there is so much excitement going on around you, you don’t have time to get down.”
Young may remain even keel, but his teammates are starting to become a little worked up that he is not more in the conversation for the NL Rookie of the Year award Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki seem to be getting much of the attention.
Young got to “30-25” despite not having a set spot in the batting order and not having a top run producer behind him such as Prince Fielder (Milwaukee) or Matt Holliday (Colorado) to force pitchers to challenge him more often.
“To think of all the players who have played this game, Hall of Famers, and none of them have ever done what this young man is doing …,” teammate and mentor Tony Clark said.
“He will achieve something that no rookie in history has ever achieved. Ever. That alone should move him to the top of the list. I don’t care what your average is.”
Young and Clark developed a bond when Young arrived in the majors late last August, and it was cemented in spring training.
The two often spend time talking about the game, whether on a couch in the Los Angeles clubhouse or during batting practice at Chase Field on a plane flight home.
“You knew that the talent was there. It was simply a matter of how quickly he was going to adapt and make the adjustments he was going to make as he learned the league,” Clark said.
“The crazy thing is, he still has a long way to go from the standpoint of realizing how good he can be.”
Young was the centerpiece of D-Backs general manager Josh Byrnes’ first big trade, further enhancing Byrnes’ reputation as a talent evaluator, when he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox along with Luis Vizcaino and Orlando Hernandez for Javier Vazquez in the winter of 2005.
The D-Backs had three or four offers to choose from for Vazquez, but the White Sox’s willingness to include Young made their proposal the most attractive.
“From a scouting standpoint, he was a rare guy, with speed and power,” Byrnes said. “Plus he had a solid performance history, most notably a very good season at Double-A (Birmingham) at 21 years old” in 2005.
Young had a reverse “30-25” at Birmingham, with 32 stolen bases and 26 homers that season, and while believing in himself set no goals when the D-Backs gave him the regular center field job this spring.
“I understood it was my first year in the major league, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Young said.
“I would have been happy to hit 10 home runs. I’ve made it to the point I am now. I’m still trying to learn make adjustments. Trying to stay loose and calm out there.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more. Hopefully, I get better and better and carry that into the rest of the season and next season and go from there, and keep doing my thing.”
D-Backs at Dodgers
When: 7:40 p.m. today.
TV: Fox Sports Net Arizona