Commentary

Michael Young, Rangers can coexist

Star's clubhouse appeal should neutralize rift with GM, help keep business as usual

Updated: February 19, 2011, 9:32 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Young walked into the clubhouse around noon Saturday and gave his manager a big hug. Tommy Hunter was so excited to see the team leader that he lifted him up off his feet in a warm embrace.

Young did not share any hugs or claws with general manager Jon Daniels.

[+] EnlargeMichael Young
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelMichael Young was eager to greet teammates such as Tommy Hunter, but he won't be seen hugging Jon Daniels anytime soon.
At least he didn't try to tackle him, something Houston Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon did to GM Ed Wade before a game in 2008.

"I would love to walk in there and hug everybody each day," Daniels said. "But that's not critical for us to win."

It's a good thing for the Rangers that Daniels is right because it doesn't look like the desert air will help clear up that relationship.

What Young didn't say Saturday was a loud indication of how he feels.

The 34-year-old talked about how much he appreciated the fact that Nolan Ryan was honest with him in their three offseason conversations. And he professed his enjoyment in playing for manager Ron Washington. As for Daniels? Nothing.

Asked if he planned on talking to Daniels, Young curtly said: "No."

"There's no need to," Young said later.

Daniels said he hopes to talk to Young at some point but acknowledged that it would probably take some time.

Young said a few weeks ago that he was "misled and manipulated" and felt there was a "breach of trust" between himself and the club. He added: "I know the truth. JD knows the truth. And I'm going to sleep well."

Daniels didn't want to respond to anything directly but has read the comments and commentary.

"To some degree my integrity was called into question and I don't take that lightly," Daniels said. "But I think the choice we made is to not get into the details and let it pass, wear it so to speak, and move on. We really do like our club with Michael playing a key part on it."

The reality is that just because he and Young aren't speaking at this point doesn't mean the club can't go about its business and win games.

Young's personality is a big reason that can work. The Rangers are fortunate that Young's DNA won't let him do anything here at spring training other than prepare for the season and be a professional around his teammates, a group of players he cares greatly about.

[+] EnlargeRon Washington
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelIt will be up to Rangers manager Ron Washington (right) to keep Michael Young happy, a task that shouldn't be too difficult.
Given the chance to air his grievances again Saturday, Young demurred. He feels that while giving more details might help better explain where the relationship went wrong, it wouldn't necessarily serve to fix things. So he won't take all of that public. Young did say he had nothing to be ashamed about and that he wouldn't change how he handled things this offseason. Ryan said he wishes he would have communicated better with Young as the process unfolded.

Young didn't rescind his trade request Saturday, and the Rangers are operating under the assumption that he'd accept a trade if one comes up. But Daniels and Ryan said their expectation is that Young will be in the starting lineup for the Rangers on Opening Day.

Young doesn't want to be a distraction to his team and said he wouldn't be taking questions about trade talk the rest of spring.

"The unfortunate part about this is there's probably a handful of people that know all the details here and the rest of those details aren't going to come from me," Young said. "I've been fortunate to have some candid and truthful conversations with Nolan that I'm greatly appreciative of. He knows exactly where I'm at. I've spared no details. I know where he's at.

"Apart from that, I'm not going to talk about anything trade-related. Now that we're here at spring training, one thing I'll never do is disrupt my teammates' preparation for the season. I think the more said about this issue could potentially do that and that's not the kind of teammate I am."

If Young has a question with the front office, he can talk to Ryan. Otherwise, trying to keep Young happy is more the job of Washington than anyone else, including Daniels. The manager must make sure that Young gets his at-bats despite a bench that has plenty of good hitters.

Washington concedes it's a challenge but notes that he's made it work with various pieces in the past. He's vowed to get Young his playing time, and Young is confident that he will.

"I love Wash -- always have, always will," Young said. "I can't put it any simpler than that. I don't think he needs to worry about me. Once we set foot here in spring training, it's not about me anymore. It's about team."

The team is better in 2011 with Young as the designated hitter and super-utility infielder. He remains the primary clubhouse leader, and his disagreements with management shouldn't have any impact on his teammates. Remember, this is a group used to dealing with difficult issues -- see Washington's positive drug test last spring and the club spending much of 2010 in bankruptcy court.

"It does not affect us at all," said Ian Kinsler, whose locker is beside Young's in the clubhouse. "We're just getting ready to get prepared for another season and try to win a world championship."

That's one thing Young and Daniels can agree on. As long as Young is in a Rangers uniform, he wants to get back to the World Series and hoist the trophy this time.

Daniels and Young don't have to like each other to work together. Daniels has to assemble the team that he feels can best defend the AL pennant. That team includes Adrian Beltre at third base and Young as the DH/super-utility player.

So now the Rangers will count on Young to do what he's always done: Be a professional, productive player and a leader on and off the field. He can do all of that without giving his GM a hug.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.

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