Monday, December 10, 2012
Updated: December 12, 1:53 PM ET
Michael Young thanks teammates
By Richard Durrett
DALLAS -- Michael Young spent most of his news conference on Monday thanking fans, coaches and teammates for his 12 years in Texas.
But the veteran, who approved a trade to Philadelphia last week in large part because he'll be an everyday third baseman for the Phillies rather than a bench player for the Rangers, admitted that he has "no relationship" with the Rangers front office and hasn't had any conversations with them since the trade was finalized.
"I can't say there's a relationship there or a good relationship there. Well, no there's no relationship there, but that's fine with me," Young said, talking publicly for the first time since waiving his no-trade clause last week and accepting a trade to Philadelphia. "My relationship is with the guys in uniform and what they've meant to me."
Young's frosty rapport with the staff stems in large part to what happened two years ago when Adrian Beltre signed a free-agent contract. Young and management struggled to communicate clearly and Young's name came up in trade discussions that offseason. Daniels even admitted at the winter meetings last week he'd learned some lessons from that and declined to talk about Young's status with the club to the media, other than to say that it was a "possibility" that Young's role could be reduced.
Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, out of town attending a conference, told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Randy Galloway that he plans on calling Young in the next few days to thank him for his years of service with the team and community. Daniels said he will do the same.
"No doubt I plan to give him a shout," Daniels said. "It's true we don't have much of a relationship anymore. We did until two winters ago, and as I've said before, I regret that. We addressed that last offseason and had a professional relationship this year. None of that played into our decision (to trade him)."
Daniels said Young asked the club earlier this offseason to deal directly with his agent.
"I wanted to give it a few days, given everything involved (before talking to Young)," Daniels said. "This was a baseball trade. He's meant a lot to the organization and community and I wish him and his family well."
Young said the club talked to his agent a few weeks ago and told him he was looking at around 300 at-bats for the upcoming season, but that he'd have a chance to earn more time if he played well.
But last week, when the chance to play every day in Philadelphia came up, Young felt it wasn't a difficult career decision. The tough part was knowing he'd be moving without his family, who will remain in Texas this season.
"Baseball was easy," Young said. "I wanted to go. I don't mean that to be harsh, it was just a great opportunity in Philly, having the opportunity to go from one great team to another one. I was pleased with the role they outlined for me. I was ready for a different challenge. I wanted to push myself."
Young has moved positions three times in his Rangers career, shifting from second base to shortstop for Alfonso Soriano in 2004 and then went to third base prior to the 2009 season when Elvis Andrus was promoted. The move came months after he won a Gold Glove at short.
Two years later, Young's role changed again to a designated hitter and super-utility infielder when Beltre joined the club. Young has praised Beltre, someone he feels is one of the best teammates he'd had. But he wasn't happy with how the entire situation was handled by management as his name came up in trade discussions that offseason.
He does regret how he handled the move to third base in 2009. Then, he publicly complained about changing positions.
"At the time, our team was scuffling. We were a .500 team and I felt like I was the one guy there every day doing my job," Young said. "When I got moved out of my position, my initial reaction was, 'There's a lot of changes that need to be made elsewhere, why am I the one being moved out of my spot?' If I could go back in time, I would have embraced it as a great challenge.
"Elvis is just a great kid, great player and one of my all-time favorite teammates. If I could go back in time, I would have definitely taken that one a little differently. The second time? I wouldn't change a damn thing."
Young spent much of Monday's session with a small group of local media talking about his 12 years in the clubhouse and all of the coaches, players and fans that helped him along the way. His wife, Cristina, listened from the back and teared up a bit when Young talked about what Texas has meant to him.
He's played all 12 years of his career in the same uniform and thought he might finish it off in Texas.
"I was hopeful," said Young, who won a batting title in 2005, was an All-Star MVP in 2006 and is the franchise's all-time hits leader among other records. "In this game, you never know. You never know. I was hopeful of it."
Young signed his current long-term deal prior to the 2006 season, which ends after 2013, a season in which he makes $16 million.
"We were a .500 team and I was having a good season and the idea of being a free agent appealed to me, but idea of being in Texas appealed to me more," Young said. "I didn't envision leaving at that point."
As he contemplated changing teams last week, Young reached out to four members of the Phillies that he knows: Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Laynce Nix and Chase Utley. Young asked them some questions and got some information about the club.
"It's a championship-caliber team," Young said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of it. You have guys on that team that have World Series rings. I've played big games. I know what the October experience is like. At the end of the day, this is what I do. I'm a competitor. I'm a competitor before I'm a baseball player. I have a new opportunity right in front of my face. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
I can't say there's a relationship there or a good relationship there. Well, no there's no relationship there, but that's fine with me. My relationship is with the guys in uniform and what they've meant to me.
-- Michael Young on Rangers' front office