Braves' Timmons, Young Waiting For Opportunities
ATLANTA—Now that the worst-kept secret in baseball has become a reality
with the Braves' hiring of Fredi Gonzalez as their manager, more changes
are on the way, which began with the release of outfielder Melky
Cabrera and righthander Takashi Saito a week after the team was ousted
from the playoffs.
While several new faces are expected to populate the 2011 major league
roster, a pair of long-time farmhands continue trying to break through
the game's glass ceiling. Third baseman Wes Timmons and
outfielder/second baseman Matt Young are toiling this winter with
Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League after rooming together this past
season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Serving as the one-two punch atop the G-Braves' lineup this past season,
Young, who signed as a nondrafted free agent out of New Mexico in 2004,
overcame a slow start at the plate to lead the organization with 88
runs scored and 39 stolen bases while ranking fourth with a .300
average. Timmons, a 2002 12th-round pick out Bethune-Cookman, battled an
oblique injury late in the campaign to also place among the top 10 in
six offensive categories, including an organization-best 60 walks to go
with a .293/.400/.404 line.
"I was given the opportunity to play third base every day for the first
time in a long time," Timmons said. "Getting the chance to hit higher in
the lineup really helped, especially hitting behind Matty, who's always
on base and creating headaches for the defense, which opened up holes
Young's performance early in the campaign did not have the makings of a
stellar summer. He was hitting .216 in mid-May before finding his rhythm
in June, when he batted .386. He remembers reaching third on a triple
and thanking manager Dave Brundage for sticking with him. Young, who
turned 28 on Oct. 3, feels he became more versatile this season by
splitting time between second base and all three positions in the
outfield. The 31-year-old Timmons, meanwhile, has seen the sites of the
International League in each of the past six seasons, including all of
the last four.
"They say you learn more from your struggles than from your successes,"
Young said. "I learned a lot about myself and how to fight through it at
this level. I feel like I grew up as a player and as a person."
• First baseman Freddie Freeman suffered what initially was described as
a sprained thumb while sliding into third base on a triple in the
Arizona Fall League.
• Todd Redmond went 2-0, 1.42 in a pair of starts at the Pan American
Games Qualifier in Puerto Rico. The righthander, who's pitched the past
two seasons at Gwinnett, went 3-0, 1.21 in three starts for the 2009
World Cup gold medal team.