Young joins the Dodgers after trade from Phillies
As a kid, Michael Young's favorite player was Don Mattingly.
Certainly flattering to hear, but the Los Angeles Dodgers manager joked it's not going to earn the newly acquired Young any additional playing time.
''We'll see what he says once the season is over,'' Mattingly said before a game against the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
Young waived his no-trade clause to join the Dodgers, one of the hottest team in baseball. He knows his playing time will diminish, but a chance to play for a pennant contender was just too alluring to pass up. Young was uniform on Monday, but not in the starting lineup two days after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for a minor league pitcher.
''Without being disrespectful to Philly - Philly is a great place to play - ... but yeah, it was a no-brainer decision for me,'' Young said. ''I couldn't wait to get here and get suited up and be a part of the team.''
Mattingly expects Young to possibly start Tuesday and probably at third base, a position he mostly played with the Phillies this season.
Young arrived at Coors Field early Monday, shaking hands with his new teammates. He received some good-natured ribbing from Skip Schumaker, who greeted Young by reminding the veteran infielder who won the 2011 World Series. It was Schumaker and the St. Louis Cardinals that beat Young and the Texas Rangers in seven games.
''He just shoved his ring in my face from 2011,'' Young said, laughing. ''I have a good relationship with a lot of these guys. I don't expect that to change. I expect it to improve as time goes on.''
What will take some getting used to may be going from an everyday player to more of a spot starter. He understands that and insists his approach will remain the same.
''My role is winning player for the Dodgers,'' Young said. ''That's my role. ... The one thing I will say in playing against the Dodgers a couple of weeks ago in Philly - Cliff Lee and I were on the bench and we noticed that every position player had a start (in the series). It's pretty clear that everyone stays active here.
''I expect to be active. I expect to go out and play.''
In the lead up to the trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. ran it by Young, just to gauge his interest.
''It was an immediate yes,'' Young said. ''They've done a great job all season long, to put themselves in a great position. The second that Ruben gave me a heads up on the trade, it was a very easy decision.''
Not so easy saying farewell. After all, he had just joined Philly this season, hitting .276 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 126 games.
''We had a tough go of it this year,'' he said. ''A ton of injuries got us.''
Once the deal was done, Young rushed home to pack up his apartment. He was on a plane bound for Denver first thing Monday morning.
''Landed and came straight to the ball park,'' he said. ''As long as I get an opportunity to play baseball, everything else is completely secondary to me.
''I'm going to come prepared every day to try and help this team win as many ball games as I possibly can.''
After all, it's a team near and dear to him. Young grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended about 20 Dodgers games a season.
By far his favorite player was Mattingly, even if he played on the opposite coast with the New York Yankees.
When Young was a rising star with the Rangers, he had a chance to talk hitting with Mattingly at an All-Star Game, a conversation he was sure Mattingly wouldn't remember.
Mattingly did recall that chat, even kept an eye on Young's career.
''He's a guy that uses the whole field the way he hits,'' Mattingly said. ''He had a good idea what he was doing up there. His approach was right on.''
For now, Mattingly plans to use Young at either first or third base. Should the occasion arise, though, Mattingly won't hesitate to insert him at second or shortstop.
''Anytime I've ever watched Michael play anywhere, he seems like he's been a good defender to me,'' Mattingly said.
Young's not picky - he will play about anywhere that's necessary for his boyhood team.
''I'm at a point in my career where winning is all that matters to me,'' Young said. ''If this team wasn't where they were in the standings, the sentimental value wouldn't seem nearly as appealing. Given what they've done, obviously this is an ideal situation.''