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08/26/08 8:55 PM ET
Young still in pursuit of history
Veteran would be first righty with six straight 200-hit seasons
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Some suspense still surrounds the Rangers' season. Michael Young's assault on history picked up a little steam when he had three hits against the Royals on Monday night. Those three hits left Young with 155 on the season, meaning that he needs 45 more in the Rangers' final 30 games. Young was also 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .290. His final average is important but that will be fine if he can get the 45 hits. But he needs to finish strong to make history. Young is trying to become the first right-handed hitter in Major League history to finish with at least 200 hits for six consecutive seasons. Only two left-handed hitters have done it more. Wade Boggs and Ichiro Suzuki have done it in seven straight. "I don't look at it as how many hits do I need," Young said. "In the past, I've had 200 hits because I don't think about it. I think about playing to win. Whether I get it or not, I'm still proud of my season. I've battled difficult injuries and didn't go on the DL. I kept pounding away. So if I get it, I'll be proud and if I don't get it, I'll still be proud." Young is also trying to hit .300 or better for the sixth straight season. But he can do that without getting the 200 hits. It's the 200-hit streak that would allow him to carve his own little niche of baseball history. "I understand the significance of it, considering the many great right-handed hitters in the game," Young said. "Just to be in this position is great. But I just want to bear down on what's important and that's to help my team win. My responsibility is not to myself but to everybody on this team." If Young does finish with 200 hits and a .300 batting average, he may very well be the first player to do so with small fractures in the ring finger on both hands. He suffered a stress fracture in the tip of the finger on the left hand in the first week of June and once that started to heal, he suffered a small fracture in the ring finger on his right hand back on July 28 against the Mariners. Young, who has been out of the starting lineup in just seven of 132 games, refuses to blame a summer of fractured fingers on why he'll need a strong finish to reach his two milestones. "I don't buy the injury excuse," Young said. "I'm not the only one who gets banged up. You have to play through it. The only way to be an impact player in this game is to play through injuries. You have to learn to play and be effective, even if you're not at your physical peak. "I feel like I have, although I definitely feel I'm capable of more. I'm never satisfied, I know I'm capable of playing better baseball and I want to do that over the final five weeks." Young has at least one thing going for him. September is usually a great month for him. He has a .352 batting average in September over the past five seasons, including .362 in 2007. His career average of .322 in September is his highest for any month. "This is the time of year I take pride in more than any other time," Young said. "It's the last part of the season, everyone is tired, everyone is beat up. This is where I play my best baseball." If so, history awaits.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.