Eric Young Jr. has a different look with the Mets as compared with the Rockies -- at least hair-style-wise.DENVER -- Although he has played parts of five seasons in the major leagues, Eric Young Jr. has never played in Queens. That will change Friday, when the Mets return from an 11-game trip to face the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
"Last year was my first time going to New York. And I just went on a DL stint right there at Citi Field," said Young, who was acquired nine days ago for right-hander Collin McHugh, and who was raised in Piscataway, N.J. "So I never actually played a game at Citi Field. It'll be my first time. It's going to be a lot of firsts for me tomorrow."
First thing is first, though. Young today starts in left field against his former employer. The Rockies drafted Young in the 30th round in 2003. He hit .267 with six homers, 46 RBIs, 71 steals and a .334 on-base percentage in 887 career plate appearances with the Rockies.
Despite the Mets' late-night travel from Chicago, Young got to the ballpark more than an hour before most teammates to get the socializing out of the day.
Young returns with a different look -- having shaved his head the night he learned of the trade.
"Fresh start," he explained.
As for his emotions upon returning so soon, Young said: "I'm more excited to see the reaction from the fans later today."
Young said he did not expect to be designated for assignment, so the move surprised him. His departure coincided with the promotion of Tyler Colvin from Triple-A. Young's fielding had regressed. And his pinch-hit success in 2012 (.245) was not being duplicated this season (.111) with the Rockies, despite Colorado manager Walt Weiss very much liking Young.
"You try not to worry yourself with that," he said about the possibility of being DFA'd. "Obviously, if the situation happens then you go from there. When they told me, it was a little bit of a shock. But I understand the business and know how things work."
Given he has plenty of relatives in New Jersey, Young said Citi Field should be packed with family and friends Friday. His father, ex-big leaguer Eric Young, will wait until the next road trip to see his son in person -- recognizing Eric Jr. already will be "pulled in a lot of different directions" during his first homestand as a Met.
Young received a call after the trade from the Rockies scout who originally signed him, New Jersey-based Mike Garlatti, to express his excitement he would be able to see him in person at Citi Field.
"I think when the news first came out, all of my family called, all my high school friends gave me a call," he said. "There's just a lot of people excited, as I am. ... I know it's going to be pretty crazy. But, like I said, I'm excited getting in front of the Mets fan base as well as family."
Young is hitting .414 as a Met so far and has supplied the club with a desperately needed leadoff hitter.
One caveat, though: The switch-hitting Young has been batting righty a ton in his first week as a Met because of a slew of southpaws lining up to face the Mets. At some point that will normalize. And Young has pronounced splits: He's hitting .290 in his career against southpaws and .253 against righties.
"Any time you go to a place where you're wanted and needed, it is big," Young said. "It's awesome that I get to go to an opportunity here with the Mets as well as it's close to home."