Matt Young is living the dream.
After six years laboring in the minor leagues, the 28-year-old Texan spent Opening Day 2011 as a full-fledged member of the Atlanta Braves.The Braves opened the season in Washington D.C., and Young said he remembers walking out on the field but not much else about that day.
"It's been the dream, the goal," Young said Wednesday at in Lawrenceville. "To have your first big league time be Opening Day in Washington, D.C., having your family come out and be a part of that is indescribable."
Young, who grew up and played his high school ball in Plano, Texas, before earning a scholarship to the University of New Mexico, said walking out onto the field before the game was surreal. Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez talked to him, but it didn't register at first, "Fredi kept talking to me, but I don't really know what he said. I kind of just put my head down and smiled," Young said.
Reality soon set in, however. After 20 games in the majors, he was sent back down to the Gwinnett Braves AAA ball club.
"It was a really good learning experience going up there and being highly unsuccessful hitting the ball," he said. In his 20 games with Atlanta Braves, he batted .208, going 10-for-48 at the plate with one double.
"Not really contributing those three weeks was tough for me 'cause I knew I was a better player than what I was showing them," he said.
When he got the news that he would be going back to Gwinnett, Young walked into Gonzalez' office and thanked him for having the confidence to put him in the lineup for 20 games.
"It couldn't have been easy for him to keep a guy in the lineup who was hitting a buck-o-five, but he did it and showed confidence in me," he said. "Hopefully I rewarded him enough to keep me in his head any time they need a guy."
Returning to AAA ball, could be a blessing.
"The best thing for me was to get sent down and kind of get back to doing what I've been doing my whole career, which is to hit the ball and do the little things that help a team win," he said.
Young has done a complete reversal since returning to Gwinnett. He has his swing back and, in a recent 10-game stretch, he hit at a smoking .375 clip with a slugging percentage of .475 and on base percentage of .432.With those kind of numbers, he's confident he will once again make it back up the big league.
"Maybe not as a superstar, maybe just a role player, which is something I'd relish doing," he said.