"Like anybody else, I hope Michael Young is a Texas Ranger," Ron Washington said upon the manager's arrival to the Rangers' Spring Training complex on Tuesday. "I can't control his thought process and what he wants. We've just got to let it play out. He's still a Texas Ranger and I'd like to have him."
The Rangers still don't know how long that will last. Young, a six-time All-Star, is at odds with the Rangers over his move from third base to designated hitter and how it was handled and portrayed over the past six weeks.
He has requested a trade. He made that request over two weeks ago and it still hasn't happened. The Rangers have said they are trying to accommodate him and are talking to clubs, but a deal isn't imminent. Young has a list of eight teams that he's willing to be traded to and none has stepped forward. The Rockies appeared to be the most likely team but the two sides have made little progress toward a deal.
The other seven teams on the list are the Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Yankees, Astros, Twins and Cardinals. Other teams have inquired but Young's contract remains a huge obstacle. He is due $48 million over the next three seasons. The Marlins and D-backs are two teams that have been identified as having interest, but talks aren't close to being serious.
Rangers pitchers and catchers report to camp on Wednesday. Position players report on Saturday, and the first full-squad workout is on Sunday. Presumably Young will be there if he is still with the Rangers. He has not been available for comment since going public with his trade request eight days ago.
The Rangers are hoping to have the situation resolved one way or another by the first workout on Sunday, and Washington said he had no concerns about the situation creating problems for the defending American League champions.
"It's the same as it has always been ... Michael is a professional," Washington said. "We're going to go through Spring Training and do everything we can every single day to make sure these guys get better. There is always drama and distractions in baseball. We'll deal with it."
Young has spent the past two seasons as the Rangers' third baseman. He was an All-Star in 2009 and the Rangers went to the World Series in 2010 for the first time in franchise history. But Young lost his job on Jan. 5, when the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a six-year, $96 million contract to be their third baseman. Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner and the Rangers felt he would be a significant upgrade defensively. Young had never played third until being asked to move there from shortstop two years ago.
This time Young reluctantly agreed to move to designated hitter as well as a role of "super utility" infielder. That includes playing first base, a position he has never played before in the Major Leagues. The idea was for Young to still play just about every game, with 80 percent of his at-bats coming at designated hitter.
"That's still the same," Washington said. "He's going to get his at-bats. He's going to play first, he's going to play second, he's going to play third. Nothing has changed."
Young hit .284 for the Rangers last season with 99 runs scored, 21 home runs and 91 RBIs. His new role seemed to be a good fit, but, after initially agreeing to the switch, Young grew disenchanted as word got out that the Rangers were still trying to trade him while also negotiating with free-agent designated hitters Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez.
That's when the situation started unraveling. Young, in recent years, usually waits until the last day to report because he likes to stick with his rigorous offseason workout regimen in Dallas for as long as possible.
Washington was asked, if no trade comes down, if he expects Young to report on time Sunday.
"Yes," Washington said. "Yes."