KANSAS CITY -- Delmon Young extended his streak of consecutive games played to 217 on Wednesday night. It was a streak that seemed in question following a difficult night for Young, perhaps his worst with the Twins. In Tuesday's 4-3, 12-inning victory over the Royals, the Twins' left fielder went 0-for-6 at the plate and made a costly defensive mistake in the ninth that sent the game into extra innings. But while giving Young a day off would have ended the streak, currently the longest active one in the Majors, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that he started the left fielder for an entirely different reason.
"Tonight is a night where Delmon needs to be back out there," Gardenhire said. "He had a tough night last night, and you put confidence in him by putting him back out there. Let him get rid of that feeling. I don't want it staying around with him a couple of days. Get back out there and play." There have been instances where Gardenhire has given players a day off as a "mental break." After Carlos Gomez went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in a game in Oakland on April 22, Gardenhire sat the center fielder for a day. But when asked if he had thought about doing the same with Young, Gardenhire said that the two situations were different. "He was swinging like a madman," Gardenhire said of Gomez. "He needed to shorten his swing up. And we had a talk about shortening the swing up and making contact again -- putting the ball in play. "Delmon is not striking out. He's hitting the ball. He's just not getting any hits." Young has had his fair share of troubles at the plate recently. He is currently in the midst of an 0-for-14 skid. But while he didn't sit Young on Wednesday, Gardenhire didn't rule out the possibility of doing so in the future if the struggles continue. "With Delmon, if it comes to that, it comes to that," Gardenhire said. "I'm not afraid to do those things. If I think a guy needs a mental break, I give it to him -- whether they want it or not." The consecutive-games streak has been a source of pride for Young, but that won't factor into Gardenhire's decisions. "You earn playing time every day," Gardenhire said. "If something needs to be done where we have to put somebody else out there and give them an opportunity, it would be done. You don't just get 162 games because you start the season. It just doesn't happen that way." While Young had a very difficult night, Gardenhire appreciated his willingness to take accountability for his play. Gardenhire had a talk with Young following the win about his poor decision to slide toward the ball hit down the left-field line in the ninth by Mark Teahen, which turned into a three-run, inside-the-park home run. The 22-year-old understood that it was a mistake to leave his feet on the play and talked with his teammates about his blunder, as well as his poor night at the plate. "He didn't have good at-bats. He said he told a couple guys out there, 'Way to pick me up. I stunk,'" Gardenhire said. "You know what, that's being accountable. He said he had a bad night and he stunk. We move on from there."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.