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01/05/11 6:50 PM EST
Young puts Rangers first with move to DH
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Michael Young is not giving up the idea of being a regular defensive player at some point in his career. But he comes back to one reason why he is willing to move to designated hitter in order to make room for free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.
"I want to play with the Rangers," Young said on Wednesday after the club agreed to terms with Beltre on a six-year, $96 million contract. Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove winner, will be Texas' primary third baseman, a position Young played the past two seasons.
He was the Rangers' third baseman this past season when they went to the World Series for the first time in club history, before losing to the Giants in five games.
"We won last year," Young said. "It's tough to go to the World Series and lose. I want to go back there and win with this team. I love my teammates, there is no secret about that. We have a good thing going in the clubhouse. That plus the fact that I live here, my family is comfortable here and my sons were born here.
"This is where I want to play. This is where I want to make the biggest impact on my career."
The Rangers will accommodate that request. Young said that he has been told he will not be traded.
"That's been made pretty clear," said Young, who has a limited no-trade clause in his contract and can veto any trade after May when he becomes a 10-and-5 player -- one with a decade in the league and five seasons with his current team.
Manager Ron Washington, at a press conference introducing Beltre on Wednesday, said Young will be the Rangers' primary designated hitter. The Rangers will not re-sign Vladimir Guerrero. Washington said Young will also play all infield positions, including first base. That's the only infield position Young hasn't played regularly at the Major League level.
"He'll be my designated hitter and move around the infield on days when I want to give people a day off," Washington said. "We will give him a chance to play first base. Whenever we get a chance to get Michael Young in the lineup, we will."
Washington said Young will not be asked to play the outfield.
"We're fine in the outfield," Washington said.
Young, who made his Major League debut at the end of the 2000 season and started playing regularly in May 2001, has played 416 games at second base, 787 games at shortstop and 293 games at third base. He has never played first base.
The Rangers are expecting rookie Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter, to be their primary first baseman, but Young could complement him as a right-handed hitter.
"If I have to get the majority of my at-bats at designated hitter, then that's the way it has to be," Young said. "... I'm a baseball player. I'll move around a lot but I expect to be productive no matter where I will play.
"Obviously getting work at first base will be new but the other positions I've played before and I'll be comfortable with them."
Young was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1997 Draft. He was traded to the Rangers in 2000 while he was still in the Minor Leagues and has been with the franchise ever since.
He is the Rangers' all-time leader in at-bats, hits and doubles and will likely pass Rafael Palmeiro for most runs scored and games played this season. He was the club's starting second baseman from 2001-03 before moving to shortstop in '04 and became the starting third baseman in '09 to make room for shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Young made it clear that he still believes he can be a productive defensive player but is willing to do this for the good of the team and play for a World Series championship team.
"I don't take these moves lightly," Young said. "I don't just take it on the chin. I sent out to accomplish certain goals, and if I have to make adjustments, I will. But that doesn't change my goals and what I want to accomplish."