Discontented star Michael Young reported to Texas Rangers camp on Saturday, saying he’s ready to play while acknowledging that he’s still unhappy with how the offseason unfolded.
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“It wasn’t the smoothest two months in the world,” he said at a news conference.
Young recently asked for a trade. On Saturday, he declined to say whether he rescinded the request in light of the fact that he has reported for spring training. But both team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels said they expect Young to be on the Opening Day roster.
“Michael’s here, and we’re very pleased about that,” Ryan said.
Still, uncertainty lingered, as Daniels declined to say whether the team was engaged in any ongoing trade talks regarding Young.
Young lost his job as the everyday third baseman to Adrian Beltre in January, 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’s trade request came shortly after the Napoli trade. Coming off a season in which the Rangers advanced to the World Series for the first time in franchise history, Young said a trade “was the last thing” he wanted.
Ryan acknowledged that communication among the parties should have been better during the winter. Young, who had been in contact with Ryan recently, said he has no plans to have a conversation with Daniels, hinting at a rift between the two.
Yet, Rangers manager Ron Washington said he doesn’t believe Young will be a distraction.
“Michael isn’t the kind of person that’s going to bring drama into the clubhouse,” Washington said Saturday morning. “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.”
Young said he expects to be in the lineup on an everyday basis. Washington, however, balked at the question of whether Young has been assured of 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.
“But we’ve always been able to make that happen,” Washington added. “I don’t foresee us not being able to (do that) in 2011. Every team would like to be in a situation where you have 11 players capable of playing every day. We’ll do what we have to do.”