Chris Young has Melvin’s backing through struggles

It’s been a tough year so far for Chris Young, but the A’s outfielder still has the solid support of Oakland manager Bob Melvin.

Young, who normally starts against left-handed pitching, was out of the lineup Saturday because of illness. He was feeling better, and he was back in the lineup Sunday as the designated hitter.

Young comes into the day with a .177 average, five home runs and 22 RBIs. Along the way he’s spent 2½ weeks on the disabled list with a quad injury and floundered when at the plate.

    “He’s got a decent number of homers and RBIs for the at-bats he has,’’ Melvin said. “It’s his average that’s inconsistent.’’

Normally Young would have started all four games against the White Sox, who were starting four left-handed pitchers. And after Sunday’s start, he could get another Tuesday when the Yankees, who come to town Tuesday, start lefty C.C. Sabathia.

After that, however, it seems that the cycle will swing back to right-handers facing the A’s, and Young will have to wait for his spots.

Young has always been an everyday player, but he’s the fourth outfielder in Oakland, and even with the DH spot available, he’s going to get limited time because his competition, Seth Smith, is left-handed and Smith is hitting .271 with five homers and 24 RBIs in about three dozen more at-bats.

Young was an All-Star with the Diamondbacks in 2009 and averaged 20 homers from 2009-11, but he fell to .231 last year with Arizona with just 14 homers and the struggles continue this year.

Melvin, who managed Young with the Diamondbacks, has seen that side of him and seems confident it will show itself again.

“This is different than anything he’s had to do before,’’ Melvin said of Young. “But he continues to work. We’re all optimistic that his talent level is going to take over and he’s going to put up the type of numbers he has in the past.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.