Rangers' Young Ready for Spring Ball

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Texas Rangers Michael Young to bat 7th in All-Star Game.

    With last year's position change behind him, Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young is getting back to the normal routine of preparing for the season.

    "Last year my goal was to get acclimated with third base," Young said Tuesday. "This year I want to focus in and work on the things I want to do to get better."

    What those things are, he's keeping to himself.

    "I'm going to keep that close to the vest," he said. "I'll let you know when I do them."

    On the surface, little improvement seems necessary, given Young's success after shifting from shortstop to third base to make room for rookie Elvis Andrus.

    Offensively, Young was as solid as ever -- a .322 batting average, .892 OPS and 22 home runs in 135 games. Defensively, he made only nine errors in 134 games at third base, tied with Alex Rodriguez for the lowest total among qualifying players.

    Young was rewarded with his sixth straight All-Star selection, his first at the hot corner after five in a row at shortstop.

    "As the summer went on he got more comfortable in there and started enjoying it out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The thing he wants to do is zero in on a couple of things and get a little bit better."

    Washington envisions Young batting second again this year, and with Josh Hamilton healthy and new designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero now in the lineup, the manager thinks Young will see a lot more fastballs.

    "Sitting in that second slot, he's definitely going to make us go. I never worry about Michael Young's offense. I know that's going to be steady," Washington said.

    For his part, the 33-year-old Young knows he has considerable help in fueling the Rangers' offense.

    "We're a better team now than when we left last season," he said. "I couldn't always say that. We have some stability here now and it's a matter of just adding. I think our expectations have changed. It's exciting for me to be a part of."

    Like the Rangers' other returning players, Young thinks Texas is on the verge of something special in the wide-open AL West.

    "There's a ton of optimism here," he said. "We know we're going to be a good team. But we need to put that aside when we get here. Once we get to spring training, it's time to work.

    "The big picture is we expect to have a flat-out good team. It's as simple as that. But we haven't accomplished anything yet."

    NOTES: Monday's MRI on LHP Derek Holland's right knee revealed nothing more serious than the mild sprain originally diagnosed when he left the field Saturday. He has been cleared to resume baseball activities. ... Full-squad workouts begin Wednesday. ... Washington said he plans to use left-handed-hitting Julio Borbon as his leadoff batter against both right-handers and lefties. "We'll put him out there and see how he handles it," the manager said.


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