01/12/09 1:04 AM EST
Young asks Rangers to explore trade
Request comes after team told shortstop to move to third base
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
"I've done everything I can to be a team player. I have been loyal and respectful and accountable to my teammates. But this comes down to my job as a player. It's not like moving from second to leadoff in the lineup. Shortstop is my job. I've worked hard at it. I've earned it. I don't think I've done anything to have it taken away."Young began his career with the Rangers in 2001 as a second baseman, then agreed to move to shortstop at the beginning of Spring Training in 2004 after Alex Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees. Since then, he has been selected to the American League All-Star team for five straight years and won his first Gold Glove in 2008. "Whether or not I won the Gold Glove, I know I'm a productive shortstop," Young said. "As far as this goes, the Gold Glove doesn't enter into it." The Rangers don't want to force Young to move. They want him to go willingly. They don't want a showdown in Spring Training similar to what happened with the Washington Nationals in 2006 when they basically forced Alfonso Soriano to move from second base to left field. But Daniels adamantly insists that it's in the best interests of the team and pointed out that a number of outstanding players have switched positions in their careers, including Cal Ripken Jr., Craig Biggio and Robin Yount. "You've had a lot of prominent players who have been asked to do something that's in the best interests of the club, and it's worked out well." Daniels said. Said Young, referring to his move to shortstop in 2004: "I've done that, too, for my team." Young is going into the first season of a five-year, $80 million contract extension that he agreed to in Spring Training 2007. But the possibility of Andrus taking over at shortstop has been strong ever since he was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 31, 2007, as one of five players in return for first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitcher Ron Mahay. He was one of the key players in the trade because of his outstanding defense. But at the time, Andrus was 18 years old and considered years away from the Major Leagues. That gap is closing quickly. Andrus spent all of 2008 at Double-A Frisco, hitting .295 with 82 runs scored and 54 stolen bases. He also committed 32 errors at shortstop, but has always been considered one of the best defensive players at each Minor League level. "Elvis brings several things," Daniels said. "He's going to be a premium defensive shortstop. I know he has high error totals in the Minors, but a lot of shortstops did. He has aptitude and maturity beyond his age. He can handle the bat. I don't know how much power he'll have, but he can steal bases and do the little things. "If we had [All-Star third baseman] Evan Longoria at Triple-A, we wouldn't be asking Michael to do this. But we don't have one. We have a premium shortstop." There was still some consideration about giving Andrus one season at Triple-A before asking Young to make the move. But the Rangers feel he's close to being ready and don't have any other any alternatives at third base. It's a weak free-agent market at that position, and the Rangers are clearly reluctant to go with Travis Metcalf. "Everybody knows how I feel about Michael," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm sure it was a shock to him, but he's a professional. He needs time to think about it, but Elvis may be coming faster than we expected. I've always said that he's one of the best I've ever seen at catching anything he can get to. Being the athlete that he is, I'm sure he can make any adjustment that he wants to." Young was asked if he might feel differently about the position switch if he felt he had a choice in the matter. "That's difficult to say, but it wasn't presented that way," Young said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.