ARLINGTON -- Michael Young knew he wasn't 100 percent over his strained left hamstring injury. He admitted it might be risky to be back in the lineup so soon. Turns out he was right. Young returned to the Rangers' lineup on Tuesday night for the first time in two weeks but made it through only one at-bat before leaving the game. Young flied out to center field in the first inning, then was lifted for pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz in the third.
The preliminary report from the Rangers is that Young did not suffer a physical setback. Instead, Young felt it would be better to wait a day or two to return to the lineup. The Rangers have a day off on Thursday. Young could sit out Wednesday's game against the Athletics, take Thursday off and then return to the lineup on Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Angels. Young injured his hamstring in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 1 against the Blue Jays. The original prognosis was he would be sidelined 2-4 weeks. Tuesday marked exactly two weeks since the injury, and Young was determined to play. "I'm not 100 percent, but it feels good enough," Young said. "I prefer to go back in the lineup at third base, but if I have to DH to be in the lineup, that's fine. I'm not 100 percent. The idea to be at DH is to avoid the fatigue factor. The one thing I know about hamstrings is you don't want to get tired in the late innings." Young was not expecting to be back on Tuesday. But he woke up feeling pretty good and called conditioning coach Jose Vazquez. Young told Vazquez that he wanted to test his hamstring and see if he could play. Four hours before the game, Young went out and ran the bases, did some agility drills and ran some sprints. Young went into manager Ron Washington's office and told him that he was ready. The veteran had been taking batting practice off a machine for the past four days. "My goal was to get into the lineup as soon as I was ready to play," Young said. "That was tonight. It's not 100 percent, so there is some risk. But it's the middle of September, and I want to play." The Rangers needed him. They went into Tuesday's game 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race and six games behind the Angels in the AL West race. They had also been shut out for two straight games and had gone a season-high 19 innings without scoring. They need Young, a six-time All-Star who leads the team and is sixth in the AL with a .322 batting average. "It's huge having him back," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "Again, we miss his leadership, his presence. We've anointed him team captain. He's the leader on our team. Having him back brings more energy to our team. It's tough to go out and play without him. It's even worse when you have to play without him and Josh Hamilton."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.