Young arrives in Rangers' camp ready to work
Ryan, Daniels happy to have veteran in Surprise with team
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Young's long-awaited arrival in Rangers camp came shortly after noon on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Surprise.He was met at the door by manager Ron Washington, and they embraced. Young also greeted and hugged many of his teammates from the 2010 American League championship team. He had a smile on his face and told people he was "glad to be here." He also repeated that in a press conference shortly after his arrival. There was one thing that Young did not address. He declined to say if he still wants to be traded by the Rangers. "I'm here to get ready for the baseball season," Young said. "This is the time of the year that I love. I'm not going to answer any trade-related questions. I am not going to be a distraction to my team, or my teammates. That wouldn't be fair to them. I'm here with the Rangers." In a separate press conference, general manager Jon Daniels and club president Nolan Ryan said they were happy that Young was in camp. They both said the Rangers want to put this issue behind them and focus on baseball. "We're here to prepare for the championship season," Ryan said. "We feel good Michael is in camp, and feel we're a better ballclub with Michael in camp. We're looking forward to getting down to business." But they also suggested there is still a possibility that Young could be traded, if the right deal came up at some point in the future. "If there is something that we can do to improve the club, now or in the future, we've got to take a look at it," Daniels said. Ryan has had multiple conversations with Young over the past few weeks, trying to settle the differences between the player and the ballclub. Ryan suggested Young would still be interested in a trade, if one could be arranged. "From the conversations we've had, Michael is not at the point of his career where he wants to be a DH," Ryan said. "If he's able to make a move and go some place where he can be a position player, depending on the situation, he would entertain it. But he's not demanding we trade him. "At this point, his focus is on getting ready for the season. I think he's putting his personal feelings behind him, as far as being a DH." Young reiterated on Saturday that his request to be traded was not because he was being asked to move to designated hitter. Young said there were other issues that came up over the past six weeks that upset him and led to the trade request. "It was the culmination of a lot of things," Young said. "The one thing that has been misrepresented is that all of a sudden I didn't like my role and all of a sudden I changed my mind. I'm not going to do that two weeks before Spring Training. "That's not what happened. When I was asked to DH, that wasn't my first choice, but I agreed to do it. I trusted that Wash would keep me involved in the game. It wasn't all of a sudden I changed my mind. That wasn't the case." Young was the Rangers' starting third baseman the past two seasons before they signed free agent Adrian Beltre on Jan. 5. Young, at the time, agreed to move to a new role as designated hitter and "super utility" infielder to make room for Beltre. Something changed over the next three weeks. Young declined to go into the details, but he was clearly not happy that the Rangers were continuing to include him in trade talks with other clubs, and that they were also still pursuing free-agent designated hitters Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. He was also not happy that his dispute with the Rangers became public. He is clearly not happy with Daniels and said he has no plans to meet with him here in Spring Training. He has spoken to Ryan and made his feelings known to him. "Only a handful of people know the details," Young said. "The rest of the details are not coming from me. I'm not going to throw more gasoline on the fire. "I'm not uncomfortable. I've got nothing to hide, and nothing to be ashamed about. There's nothing I've done that I would change. I'm very comfortable here." Young asked the Rangers on Jan. 27 to trade him. They have tried to accommodate him, but have not been successful. He has a list of eight teams that he's willing to be traded to: Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Yankees, Cardinals, Astros and Twins. But none of those teams have stepped up. The Rangers have had discussions with other teams, but are not close to anything. Young is still owed $48 million over the next three years, and that remains a significant obstacle. "I thought I would be traded," Young said. "Having said that, I go back to what I've learned this offseason: you can't assume anything. You don't know potentially what will happen." Daniels also declined to discuss the inside details that led to the dispute. He did make it clear that the Rangers pursued Thome and Ramirez for a part-time role that would not have had a significant impact on Young's playing time. Beyond that, Daniels understands that Young is not happy with him, but does not want to inflame the situation by discussing the details of the dispute. "My integrity has been called into question, and I don't take that lightly," Daniels said. "I have the choice of getting into a debate, or letting go and moving on. For the best interests of the organization, it's better to move on. "I can safely say that everything we did this offseason we did as a group, and done with the single purpose of winning the world championship. We feel we're a better ballclub than we were last year, we feel we're a better ballclub than we were six months ago. If there is a way we can improve the ballclub, we will. But we feel we're in a great position." Ryan admitted that the Rangers' communication could have been better in what was a rushed and frantic offseason. The Rangers' trip to the World Series left them with one less month of an offseason, and they spent the first five weeks trying to re-sign Cliff Lee. Once Lee decided to sign with the Phillies, the Rangers had to scramble in other directions to improve the club. At one point during the winter, they were close to a deal with the Rockies -- but Young made it clear his preference was to stay with the Rangers. He thought that would be the end of it. "Clearly, things haven't played out as smoothly as you would like," Daniels said. "I am comfortable with the decisions we made. We like our club. But anytime you have a valuable member of the organization who is unhappy, that part went awry and is regrettable. "Things did not go in a timely manner for us this offseason, and I probably could have done a better job of communicating with Michael," Ryan said. "As an organization, our goal was to make our ballclub better. It doesn't always happen in a timely manner, and there are other things that we can't control. But looking back, I probably could have done a better job communicating." Now, Young is finally here with the rest of the squad. The Rangers' first full-squad workout will be held on Sunday. Young will begin the process of becoming a designated hitter/super utility player. In that role, he will get 80 percent of his at-bats at DH -- while backing up first, second and third base. Young even said he would play the outfield, if asked. Washington has no plans to do that. "When I was driving to Spring Training, I wasn't thinking about those other things," Young said. "I was thinking about baseball and getting ready for the season. I love playing baseball. That's why I'm here. I love my teammates, and I love my manager. "I'm a baseball player. I'm happy to play baseball. I'm a big league baseball player preparing for the season, and nothing is going to get in the way of that."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.