15 years ago today: Ernie Young hits three homers for A’s

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It was May 10, 1996.

Ernie Young, a 26-year-old center fielder getting his first real shot in the majors, blasted three homers as the A’s beat the Twins 15-5. He had entered the game with three homers in 164 career at-bats, the lowest previous homer total for anyone who has ever had a three-homer game.

(The last of those homers came off LaTroy Hawkins, one of two players from the game still active today. The other, Jason Giambi, started at third base for Oakland. Steve Wojciechowski and Frankie Rodriguez were the starters.)

Young went on to hit 19 homers that season, but he finished with a mediocre .242/.326/.424 line.  The A’s kept him around in 1997, but as he continued to struggle, they went to Damon Mashore in center field instead.

Aside from a year in Japan in 2002, Young spent most of the rest of his career tearing up Triple-A pitching.  At 31, he was the oldest player on the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team that took home gold in Sydney.  He made his final major league appearance with the Tigers in 2004, but he played until he was 37 and hit 319 minor league homers in all.  In parts of 13 seasons in Triple-A, he hit .282/.371/.502 with 245 homers.  He hit .225/.310/.378 with 27 homers in 908 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Today, Young is managing in the Tigers system with the West Michican Whitecaps of the Midwest League.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.