© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
DALLAS -- Michael Young, having been traded from the Rangers to Philadelphia, said thank you and goodbye at a Dallas hotel on Monday. He was accompanied by his wife Cristina and his representative from MVP sports group, Josh Goldberg.
The hotel is not far from his home in north Dallas but miles away from the Ballpark in Arlington, where he played for 12 seasons and became the Rangers' all-time leader in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and total bases.
"As far as thank yous, it's a large list, starting with my teammates in Texas," Young said. "I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys, not just the guys now but for 12 years. They are some of my best friends, a great group of teammates. I was really blessed. We went through a lot together, a lot of big wins, tough losses. To play with a great group of guys and risk everything, play hard, that's all you can ask for."
He mentioned manager Ron Washington, with whom Young spoke on Sunday, the day after the Rangers completed the trade with the Phillies.
"I can't say enough about him," Young said. "It wasn't the typical player-manager relationship. We brought out the best in each other. We trusted each other, we were loyal to each other. A great manager and a great person."
He thanked his hitting coaches and other members of the staff. Then he talked about the fans.
"Twelve years is a long time, playing in front of the same group of fans," Young said. "I loved it here. It was my pleasure to play in front of them. I couldn't guarantee the wins or how many hits I got but I could guarantee I could play hard every night.
"What I had with the fans was very special. I don't take that for granted. They saw every hit, every at-bat, every strikeout, every error. I'm going to miss that."
All of that came to an end on Saturday when the Rangers traded Young to the Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and Minor League pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla. The Rangers are picking up $10.5 million of his $16 million salary and the two teams are splitting a $1.2 million transaction fee that will be paid to Young.
The deal required Young's approval because he has at least 10 years of Major League experience, including at least five with the same team. His biggest concern was how it would impact Cristina and his three young sons.
"The baseball part was easy," Young said. "I have a great opportunity in Philadelphia, having the opportunity to go from one great team to another. They have a position for me, I was ready for a new challenge. I like a new challenge. As a competitor, I want to see what it's like. The hard part was my family and what it would be like for them, being away for a summer. But once we embraced that, the baseball part was easy."
The trade came after Young's worst season offensively with the Rangers. Young, serving as a designated hitter and utility infielder for a second straight season, hit .277 with 79 runs scored, eight home runs and 67 RBIs. His .682 OPS was the lowest of his career.
He was asked if the trade would have happened if he had his normal offensive season.
"Maybe, maybe not ... I have no idea," Young said. "At the same time, I'm not going down that path. My new path is in front of me. I had a pretty good season in 2010 and almost got traded. I'm not sitting here trying to figure out what they're trying to do."
The Rangers are trying to get back to the World Series after losing in the Wild Card playoff game. Young was a regular on two World Series teams in 2010-11, but the Rangers decided he would no longer play regularly for them.
The Rangers told Young around Thanksgiving that his playing time would be reduced. They told him that he would get around 300 at-bats and have to earn the rest. At the time, Young said he would accept the challenge.
"I'm not afraid of a challenge," Young said. "I was ready to earn my at-bats."
That changed as the Winter Meetings approached. The Rangers informed Young through his agent, Dan Lozano, that he might not get a chance to earn those extra at-bats.
"That was fine," Young said. "They have to do what's best for the Rangers. At that point, the Phillies deal made sense and I got my arms around it. At that point, I knew the writing was on the wall. I knew what their plans were."
This is the third time Young has been at odds with the Rangers over his role on the team and he said he has not spoken with general manager Jon Daniels. He said he has "no relationship" with Rangers management.
"My relationship is with the guys in uniform," Young said. "I spoke with my manager and coaches. That means a lot to me."
Young was a Gold Glove shortstop for the Rangers in 2008 but was asked to move to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. He wasn't happy about it but ultimately agreed to the move. He said Monday that he wished he had handled that differently.
"I would have embraced that as a great challenge," Young said. "If I could go back in time and done it differently, I would have gone home, thought about it and moved on."
He played third base for two seasons and the Rangers went to the World Series in 2010. Then the Rangers signed third baseman Adrian Beltre on Jan. 5, 2011, and asked Young to accept a role as designated hitter and utility infielder. That situation proved far more acrimonious. Young demanded a trade but the Rangers couldn't accommodate him. He finally accepted his role but the hard feelings weren't smoothed over until well into Spring Training. Young doesn't regret his stance.
"The second time, I wouldn't change a thing," Young said.
Ultimately all decisions are measured by how the team does on the field. The Rangers won 96 games in 2011 and went back to the World Series. They won 93 games in 2012 but lost in the Wild Card playoff game to the Orioles.
Now the Rangers are preparing to move forward without the player who has been their unofficial team captain and undisputed team leader. They are going forward without the player who was designated as the "face of the franchise" when he signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension in Spring Training of 2007.
"I signed my contract and got a new nickname," Young said. "It was a good trade. I didn't think much of it. Through the whole thing, I just tried to be me ... not put up any front, just try to be me."
That seemed to work well for 12 years.