As expected, Michael Young reported to spring training on time Saturday for the Texas Rangers, saying he was ready to play and try to made the best of a "a situation that is less than ideal" after the team was unable to fulfill his request for a trade.
Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player going into his 11th season, arrived at camp in Surprise, Ariz., a day before the first full-squad workout for the AL champions.
"I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to be ashamed of. There's not a thing I would change. So I'm not uncomfortable," Young said. "If I had a horrible relationship with guys in that room or my manager, I would be uncomfortable, but I don't. I love my teammates. I love my manager."
Two-time Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre was signed this winter, supplanting Young at third base. The Rangers plan for Young to be their primary designated hitter and have him fill in at every infield position. It is the third time in eight springs Young's role with the team has changed.
Young, the team's career hits leader, said he would accept the new role and then later requested the trade. He said then that he was "misled" and "manipulated" by the team. He hasn't elaborated on how that happened.
"The unfortunate part about this is probably a handful of people know the details," Young said. "The rest of the details are not going to come from me."
Young said he had a "couple of candid and truthful conversations" with team president and co-owner Nolan Ryan and that he was appreciative of that. But Young said he didn't anticipate sitting down with general manager Jon Daniels.
"There is no need to. I've made my feelings clear to people I think I need to," Young said. "It is not on my priority list at all. I'll leave it at that. ... One thing that has been misrepresented is that all of a sudden I just didn't like my role anymore. I agreed to do it and two weeks before camp and just magically said, 'I changed my mind.' That's not the case."
Young said "a lot of things led up to this point," but again he didn't elaborate.
Ryan and Daniels both said the Rangers are better with Young. They anticipate him being on the team when the season opens April 1 against Boston.
"From the conversations I've had with Michael, he does not feel he's at the point in his career that he wants to be a DH," Ryan said. "But I don't think he's of the mindset that he's demanding to us that we have to move him. That hasn't been discussed. I think at this point and time his mindset has changed to getting ready for the season."
Daniels has repeatedly said that, while trying to accommodate Young's request, he won't make a deal unless it makes the team better.
Asked if there was miscommunication with Young during the offseason, Daniels said it was clear that things could have gone better.
"Nobody is happy we're in this spot right now and nobody looks good," Daniels said. "You never want to be in this position with a valued member of the team, but we're here, we're going to deal with and we're going to move on."
Manager Ron Washington doesn't anticipate any awkwardness because of what happened in the offseason.
"Michael isn't the kind of person that's going to bring any kind of drama to the clubhouse," Washington said. "He's going to come here and be the professional he is. ... Michael is not a clubhouse guy that is going to bring everybody down. He wants to win too bad."
When Young became a starter for the Rangers in 2001, he was a second baseman. He moved to shortstop in the spring of 2004 after Alex Rodriguez was traded, then switched to third base two years ago.
Young also asked for a trade before spring training in 2009, when the Rangers decided to move him again, even though he has just won his first Gold Glove and had been an All-Star in all five of his seasons at shortstop.
That move allowed the Rangers to promote Elvis Andrus, who at the time was 20 years old and had never played above the Double-A level. Andrus was runner up for AL rookie of the year in 2009, then was an All-Star last season.
Several teams expressed an interest in the last few weeks in acquiring Young, but dealing him proved difficult because of his contract and his lengthy no-trade list.
Young, who turned 34 last October during his first playoffs, is owed $46 million over the next three seasons ($15 million each of the next two seasons and $16 million in 2013). Most teams wanted the Rangers to pay the bulk of that and were offering little in return. There were only eight teams not on Young's no-trade list.
"Was DHing my first preference? Of course not, but I agreed to it because I love this team, love my teammates, love playing for Wash," Young said. "Once we set foot in spring training, it's not about me anymore. It's about team."
Beltre, who signed a contract for a guaranteed $80 million over five seasons, described himself as sad when he heard Young had asked for a trade. He said "this ball club, this lineup and this clubhouse" is better with Young.
"Mike will come in, get his work in and it will be like normal. It's a good thing," AL MVP Josh Hamilton said after reporting to camp Friday. "He's been somebody to look to as a natural leader, somebody who is respected on the field and is a professional on the field."