Michael Young shows at spring training
Young said there was no need to speak to general manager Jon Daniels, but that he has spoken with club president Nolan Ryan several times and has had honest discussions. Young did not want to answer any questions regarding a trade -- even the question of whether he still wanted to be traded.
Daniels and Ryan indicated that they believe Young would still accept a trade, but both said their expectation is that Young will be in the Rangers' starting lineup on Opening Day. Daniels said he hopes to talk to Young at some point, but wants to let some time go by.
"After all this stuff, I'm a baseball player," Young said. "This is what I love to do, this is what I am passionate about doing. I'm excited to be here. I want to now just go out and play. After all this stuff is done, there's a season to be played."
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Young said he would not allow his situation to be a distraction for the team and he will use spring training to prepare for the role the Rangers have set out for him as designated hitter and super-utility infielder. Ryan expects the same thing, saying he's happy that Young is in camp ready to prepare for the season.
Young expressed disappointment that the offseason situation was made public.
"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."
Ian Kinsler was glad to see Young and was confident the situation would not disrupt the team.
"To me it's the same as it's always been," he said. "Everyone shows up and you get your hugs and you get ready to play. Obviously, the media got ahold of this thing and when that happens, everything turns negative and it turns into this big drama.
It does not affect us at all. We're just getting ready to get prepared for another season and try to win a world championship."
Young stressed that the decision to ask for a trade a few weeks ago had nothing to do with his role as a DH and super-utility infielder. The Rangers said a few weeks ago that Young had a "change of heart" on his role. He disagrees.
"I agreed to do it and two weeks before camp just magically said, 'I change my mind.' That's not the case," Young said.
Young agreed to play that role before Adrian Beltre was signed and said that was still the plan. But he wouldn't go into details about why he asked for the trade in the first place.
"A lot of things led up to this point," Young said. "Having said all that, I'm very happy that I get to come play baseball. I had a day and a half to drive over here and I didn't think about any of this. I thought about baseball."
The Rangers have a different view of why Young asked for the trade request, saying the veteran wasn't happy with moving off the field.
"I really think from the conversations I've had with Michael that he does not feel that he's at the point in his career where he wants to be a DH," Ryan said. "If it means that he would have to make a move to be a position player and go somewhere else, I think depending on what the trade was that he would probably entertain that. I don't think that he's of the mindset that he's demanding to us that we have to move him. I think at this point in time his focus has changed to getting ready for the season. I think that's the professional side of Michael Young."
Young went into the clubhouse briefly before talking to the media. He hugged a few teammates and manager Ron Washington. The manager also listened to Young's chat with the media, which included several national writers and all of the local TV stations.
"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."
A few weeks ago, Young said he had been "misled and manipulated" by the team and requested a trade to one of the eight teams listed on his contract to which he can be traded without his permission (Angels, Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Twins and Yankees). The Rangers said they would trade Young if they could upgrade the club, and so far a deal of that nature hasn't presented itself. Young didn't shed any new light on what particularly bothered him, but is ready to move on to playing baseball.
Ryan said he learned some lessons from the experience.
"I could have done a better job of communicating with Michael along the way," Ryan said. "I could have done a better job in that area."
Daniels agreed, saying it can be difficult to navigate once things become public.
Young, 34, was asked to move positions for the third time in his career and the second time in the past three seasons. In 2004, he shifted from second base to shortstop to allow Alfonso Soriano to play second. Prior to the 2009 season, and a few months after winning a Gold Glove at shortstop, Young was told to move to third so that rookie Elvis Andrus could play shortstop. Young initially wasn't pleased with going to third base, but accepted the decision and came to spring training prepared to learn a new position.
When the Rangers signed Beltre this offseason, he became the club's starting third baseman, forcing the shift of Young.
Young hit .284 with 21 homers and 91 RBIs in 157 games in 2010 as the Rangers won the American League and advanced to the first World Series in franchise history. The plan is for Young to learn some first base this spring so that he can play all of the infield positions if needed.
Washington said he likely will use Young to play third, second and first and that Andres Blanco would be the primary backup at shortstop. But Young will get most of his at-bats as the DH.
Washington said Saturday he isn't concerned that the Young situation will serve as a distraction.
"Michael isn't the kind of person that's going to be drama in the clubhouse," Washington said. "He's going to come here and be the professional that he is. We have work on the schedule and we'll get to work."
Washington talked a little more about Young's role on Saturday, saying that he doesn't plan on using the veteran as a right-handed outfield option. Washington prefers to get Mitch Moreland some time out there and keep Young in the infield.
Washington is confident Young can adapt quickly to first base because of his athleticism and experience. The manager said the biggest adjustment is likely to be where he needs to be in certain situations, like cutoff positioning and bunt plays.
Washington has continued to say he wants Young on the team come Opening Day.
"What manager wouldn't?" Washington said.
Richard Durrrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.