DENVER -- Rockies infielder-outfielder Eric Young Jr. released a statement Monday denying that tardiness was the reason he was dismissed from his winter ballclub in Venezuela. The Bravos de Margarita dismissed Young last week, and media reports cited tardiness -- showing up late for two games. Young's statement, released through his representatives at CAA, calls the reports "incomplete and erroneous." In the statement, Young said a problem with travel arrangements for a family member led to his arriving in the fifth inning of a game on Thanksgiving Day. Young also stated that the incident was his only attendance issue and added that the team failed to address his safety and security concerns for his family member.
The statement said that as part of his contract with the club, he was to receive a plane ticket for a family member to visit Margarita Island. He personally booked the ticket because he didn't want his family member staying overnight in Caracas due to security concerns. "Then, last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the team representative that was supposed to help my family member at the Caracas airport with the 10-hour layover and connection to Margarita Island failed to fulfill his responsibilities, and the team's front office failed to address the situation," Young's statement said. "Since I was already highly concerned about the safety and security in Venezuela in light of the Wilson Ramos kidnapping, I decided to leave the ballpark and go to the Margarita Island airport myself. The flight from Caracas was delayed, so even though I went straight from the airport to the stadium without stopping by the hotel first, I arrived in the fifth inning. "This was the only time I missed. The next day, I arrived at the park early as usual and was in the lineup until being told I was being dismissed from the team. I want to thank Bravos manager Don Baylor, coach Gene Glynn and the rest of the field staff, since they supported me and my decisions throughout this ordeal. Don especially understood choosing the safety of a family member over a baseball game." The switch-hitting Young, who played second base in Venezuela in hopes of preparing to compete for playing time with the Rockies, hit .240 in 50 at-bats. Unless the Rockies acquire a more experienced second baseman, Young could be competing with Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera for starts and playing time. Young also figures to be in the Rockies' outfield mix. With the Rockies last season, Young batted .247 and stole a team-high 27 bases in 77 games while playing mostly in the outfield. Young also played 53 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he hit .353 and stole 17 bases. Baylor, a former Rockies manager and coach who now serves as the D-backs' hitting coach, managed Young's father with the Rockies and the Cubs a few years back. Baylor was replaced as manager of the Bravos (15-27) on Monday.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.