Former Rangers' 3rd baseman Young reborn after trade to Phillies
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Michael Young was in mid-sentence when Philadelphia Phillies teammate Jimmy Rollins — phone blasting the old-school rap song “Friends” by Whodini — sidled up to the seven-time All-Star.
When the song hit the chorus, Rollins pointed the phone in Young's direction, an offer for the third baseman to sing the next line.
“Friends,” went Rollins' phone.
“How many of us have them?” a smiling Young said without missing a beat.
So much for worrying about whether the longtime Texas Rangers star will fit in with the Phillies.
Philadelphia acquired the 12-year veteran in December for right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and a minor leaguer.
The Rangers moved their career hits leader as a favor of sorts when it became evident he would take on a diminished role if he remained in Texas.
Young had to waive his no-trade clause, and while leaving the only team he'd ever known was difficult, he has no complaints about his landing spot.
The Phillies, like Texas, are a perennial contender. Even better, they have an open spot at third base after Placido Polanco left as a free agent for Miami.
A career .301 hitter, Young spent the last two seasons moving among four infield spots and designated hitter in Texas. He got his at-bats but missed the routine that comes with knowing what glove to bring to the ballpark on a given day.
That shouldn't be an issue in Philadelphia. Young looked right at home Monday, taking ground balls and popups with the rest of Philadelphia's starting infield. Clad in a red batting-practice jersey lined with blue-and-white pants, it seemed like old times.
“The last couple years I was working hard, but I'm getting 25 percent of my workload where I should be getting 100 percent, which is hard,” Young said. “Before I was getting 25 percent of the reps because I had to keep bouncing around, making sure I keep sharp at all four spots. This year I can put everything I have into third.”
Manager Charlie Manuel hasn't come right out and declared Young as his team's Opening Day third baseman, though it seems all but assured. To be honest, Young would rather prove to Manuel he can still take care of business rather than just be awarded the spot based on his sparkling resume.
“I think he's trying to show us how good he is at third base,” Manuel said. “He says, ‘I can play third base. I don't want to tell you I'll show you.' ”
Though not always thrilled with his role in Texas — Young openly asked for a trade in 2011 after the team acquired Adrian Beltre to take over at third — the move to ease his workload on the field may have helped extend Young's career.
He is entering the final season of a five-year deal that will pay him $16 million in 2013, and he feels and looks like a guy as fresh as a player a decade his junior.
“I was ready for a good change, a good challenge and this team is perfect for me,” Young said. “They've done nothing but win over the last several years, and they're a veteran group with some young guys growing up. I'm happy to be here.”