SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Michael Young had a message for his teammates before the AL champion Texas Rangers held their first full-squad workout Sunday and he took grounders at second base for the first time in several years.
"He said he wasn't going to be a distraction. That was it," manager Ron Washington said, relaying what Young said during a scheduled team meeting before the workout.
"I think that was what was talked about more than getting ready for the season and I thought it was unnecessary," Young said. "The guys know me well so I wanted to say a couple of things about it and move on."
Young had requested a trade last month, but with no deal done reported to camp on time Saturday and said he was focused on getting ready for the season. He said the offseason drama wouldn't affect his preparations for the season and a new role with the team.
"First and foremost I'm a baseball player. There's nothing to block out," he said. "For it to become public is regretful but I've got no regrets. Baseball is my life sport. It's my entire life."
The longest-tenured Ranger going into his 11th season, Young has a different role for the third time in eight springs. He is expected to be the team's primary designated hitter and utility infielder after the offseason acquisition of Adrian Beltre supplanted Young at third base, the position he played the last two seasons.
Rain altered some of the planned schedule on the first full day, but pitchers were able to throw and fielders got in some drills before taking batting practice. Young worked at second base, the position he played when he became a starter for the Rangers in 2001.
"It feels like home for me on defense," Young said. "I hadn't played there in years, played there in the World Baseball Classic and it was like I never left."
Young moved to shortstop before the 2004 season after Alex Rodriguez was traded, then was switched to third base two years ago when the Rangers decided to promote Elvis Andrus from the minors.
Washington also plans for Young, the team's career hits leader and a six-time All-Star (five times at shortstop, once at third), to get some work at first base this spring even though most of his at-bats will come as the designated hitter. Young has never played first base and doesn't even have his own first baseman's mitt yet.
"I never played third base in my life either. You learn by doing," Young said. "I'm sure there are a lot of challenges out at first base I'm unaware of. I think it's more than just the ground balls and the throws there to pick up."
Though he took no grounders at first Sunday, he talked to assistant coach Dave Anderson about footwork at the bag.
Chris Davis, who has played 192 games at first base and 44 at third base over the past three seasons, was working at third base.
In Washington's message to the team before the first full-squad workout, the manager talked about staying healthy, especially the first few days of camp while getting back into the swing of things. He also briefly talked about last season.
"I brought up that we're the defending American League champions. We have some guys who weren't here before and I wanted them to know how we do things," Washington said. "If we take care of things every day between now and April, if we take care of that and take it serious, the game will work out for itself.
"Baseball is baseball. There's no reinventing the wheel," he said. "You go out there and react to what the game gives you."