Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Michael Young's role undetermined

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he isn't sure what role veteran Michael Young will have next season.

Young, 36, is coming off one of the toughest years of his career. He hit .277, his lowest average since his first full season in 2002, and had eight home runs and 67 RBIs in 611 at-bats. He's due to make $16 million in the final year of his contract and has full no-trade protection because he's played 10 years in the league and at least five with the same team.

Young was the primary designated hitter for the Rangers but also played a fair amount in the infield.

"Right now I think we'd just better see when we get into spring training and see how things play its way out," Washington said at the winter meetings. "Michael is a part of this team and as far as I'm concerned he'll continue to be a big part of this team. We've just got to wait and see because there's some youth that's going to be infused and we've just got to wait and see how that process works."

That "youth" starts with Jurickson Profar, who could end up a regular infielder this season. If so, and the Rangers don't trade any infielders, that could cut into Young's playing time. The club could choose to move second baseman Ian Kinsler to first base, which would mean fewer at-bats at that spot for Young. And if they want to get Mike Olt some time off the bench as a backup infielder and part-time DH, that could also affect Young's playing time.

If the Rangers re-sign Josh Hamilton and still have the rest of their outfield group, including young center fielder Leonys Martin, Washington could try to get at-bats for David Murphy and Nelson Cruz at DH.

Add it all up and Young's role could be diminished in 2013. Assuming the Rangers don't trade him -- and GM Jon Daniels said he isn't shopping Young (though that doesn't mean he won't be fielding calls about him) -- Washington expects Young to report to camp ready to go.

"I think if you were to talk with Michael Young during spring training, he's there to earn his playing time," Washington said.

The manager said Young "spoiled everyone getting 200 hits every year and hitting .300 every year," and was just "a little off" last season.

"You take his standard of what he put together last year and put (it) on a player where the expectations aren't so high, it's not a bad year," Washington said. "By Michael Young's standards maybe you guys see it as a bad year."

Young, who has played his entire career in Texas and is the franchise's all-time hits leader, has a career .301 batting average and won the league batting title in 2005, hitting .331. He has at least 200 hits in six seasons, including five consecutive from 2003-07.