Michael Young, the discontented Texas Rangers star, is due to report to camp today and address the media about his status with the club.
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His manager, Ron Washington, doesn’t believe he’s going to be a distraction. But at the moment, uncertainty persists.
Young has demanded a trade, and a deal remains possible. When asked if he expects Young to be on the Opening Day roster, Washington paused for several seconds before saying, “I can’t answer that one. I don’t know.”
Young lost his job as the everyday third baseman to Adrian Beltre, leaving him with a role as the team’s part-time designated hitter and super-utility player. But his playing time may be further affected by last month’s acquisition of Mike Napoli.
Young didn’t make his request until after the Napoli trade. Washington said Saturday that he hasn’t spoken with Young since then.
“Michael isn’t the kind of person that’s going to bring drama into the clubhouse,” Washington said. “He’s going to come here and be the professional that he is. He’s got work on his schedule. He’s going to get to work.”
Washington added: “Michael is not a guy that’s going to bring everybody down. He wants to win too bad.”
Washington, however, balked at the question of whether he could be certain that Young will get 500 plate appearances this year — even though he had more than 700 last season.
“Michael Young has been an integral part of this organization,” Washington said. “We went to the World Series last year. All of a sudden, I can’t get him at-bats? I can’t sit here and give you percentages, but Michael will play.”
The Texas lineup has a number of interchangeable parts, which can be both good and bad for a manager. The starting outfield is expected to include Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon and Nelson Cruz, but reserve David Murphy is coming off a season in which he had 467 plate appearances and played extensively in the postseason.
Washington also left open the possibility that Mitch Moreland — currently slated as the everyday first baseman — could play in the outfield, thus opening up at-bats at first for Young or Napoli.
Washington acknowledged that it’s “going to be challenging” for him to communicate to players when and where they will play — and when they will sit.