Another One Just Like Diaz

In 2003 the Dodgers were willing to include Victor Diaz in a trade with the New York Mets for Jeromy Burnitz because, among other things, they felt they had his virtual clone coming up behind him in Delwyn Young. Both were second basemen who could deliver with punch. At the same time, both were questionable in the field.

The Mets solved the fielding problem by moving Diaz to right field. That's where he 's playing right now in the big leagues and hitting so well that they may well have abandoned plans to send him back to the minors when Mike Cameron gets off the disabled list. So, how about Young?

After spending the spring in his first big league camp, he's playing in Jacksonville, having moved up a notch from Vero Beach where he spent last summer. He's not hitting in the breakout manner they could hope for but not doing badly, either, at .268 with two home runs, four doubles but only nine RBI.

Also, he's still at second. There he's made five errors already so the concerns about his ultimate destination in the field continue to arise. One thing, they know, his bat keeps him in the lineup just as it did Diaz when theydespaired over his lack of prowess with the glove.

D. Y. (as everybody who knows him calls him) has been an all-star every where he's been -- at Great Falls in 2002 (after being drafted in the fourth round out of Santa Barbara City College), South Georgia in 2003 and Vero this past season. In each case he was a dominant offensive middle infielder, the kind that is treasured.

Last season, he got off to a slow start- much slower than this year, certainly. However, he closed with a rush to finish at .281 with 22 homers, 36 doubles and 85 RBI. That doubles total set a Vero record, eclipsing the mark of 33 that Henry Rodriguez had socked in 1989. His extra -base count (61) was best in the Florida State League.

The word with Young has always been "patience". Stick him in there and he'll swing the bat proficicently. He has a quick stroke, and can generate a lot of pop that belies his stature (5-10, 180.) As for the fielding, well, Sunday, he played third for the first time but that was because the regular, Brian Sprout, was kicked out of the game.

So, like his teammate, Joel Guzman, the Dodgers will contemplate other locations in the field where he may be spotted and expect his bat to heat up before the season moves too far along. They also can look at what Diaz is doing and believe that he's but a foretaste of what Young will achieve.