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For Young, going to Philadelphia makes sense

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Associated Press
12/10/2012 8:44:52 PM
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DALLAS -- Michael Young had an easy decision from a baseball perspective.

After spending the first 12 seasons of his career with the Texas Rangers, it was stay with the only team ever played with in the majors as a part-timer without a set position, or the seven-time All-Star could go to Philadelphia to be the everyday third baseman for another playoff-contending team.

"Baseball was easy. I wanted to go. ... It was a great opportunity in Philadelphia," Young said Monday. "I was very pleased with the role outlined for me. I was ready, ready for a different challenge. I like the fact that it's something new for me at this point. I'm ready to kind of see what that's like."

Speaking publicly for the first time since waiving his no-trade clause last week and the deal getting finalized a day earlier, the 36-year-old Young said goodbye to Rangers fans and talked about how he would miss his teammates in Texas.

Young spent the past two seasons as a designated hitter while playing all four infield positions.

He was originally a second baseman in Texas, moved to shortstop after Alex Rodriguez was traded before spring training in 2004 and switched to third base when the team promoted Elvis Andrus from the minor leagues five years later. He took on the utility role after third baseman Adrian Beltre joined the Rangers.

When the Rangers approached Young's agent weeks before the winter meetings, they said that Young would get maybe 300 at-bats next season. He was initially told that he would get a chance to earn more at-bats, and welcomed having to compete for more playing time. But it quickly became more apparent to him that probably wouldn't happen.

"At that point, the Phillies deal started making more and more sense," said Young, who had 611 at-bats or more in nine of the last 10 seasons.

Young said he had spoken to his Rangers teammates and coaches since the trade, but had no conversations with front-office personnel.

"There's no relationship there, but that's fine with me," Young said. "My relationship is with the guys in uniform and what they've meant to me."

Young, with one season left on an $80 million, five-year contract, has played all 1,823 of his major league games for Texas and is the franchise leader in games played and hits, and several other offensive categories. He is a .301 career hitter.

He once was hopeful of being one of the players to spend his full career with one team, but realized that might not happen.

The trade possibility was presented to Young on Wednesday night. After talking things over with his wife the next day, and how the change would affect them and their three sons born in Texas, Young told his agent Friday that he would accept the trade to Philadelphia.

Describing the Phillies as a championship-calibre team, Young said he already feels comfortable with a group of new teammates that include Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Laynce Nix and Roy Halladay. Lee was with the Rangers for the second half of the 2010 season when they went to their first of consecutive World Series and Nix is a former Texas outfielder.

Last season, Young started 71 games at DH, 40 at first base, 14 at second base, 25 at third and four at shortstop. He played 134 games at third base in 2009, and 157 games in 2010.

Young looks forward to being able to concentrate again on one position, and "just pour everything I have into third." He was a five-time All-Star shortstop, an All-Star third baseman in 2009 and got another nod in 2011 in his utility role.

"Switching around the field is tough, it is really hard," Young said. "It's just really tough to stay in a rhythm when you're doing different things on defence. ... I'd be with Adrian Beltre, the best defensive third baseman I have ever seen. In spring training, he'd be taking groundball after groundball after groundball. I'd be right there with him, and then I'd go pick up my second base glove and go over there. So I missed out on countless reps. Doing an equal amount of work, but at different spots."

Michael Young (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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