Michael Young is still the team leader

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Nothing about this offseason -- an altered role or a trade demand -- has diminished Michael Young’s standing as the main leader of the Rangers, if you ask those inside the clubhouse.

His locker is set up and in the same spot it’s been for years (right by the player entrance and beside Ian Kinsler) and his teammates are ready to welcome him with open arms.

“For myself, I hope we see him here,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “He’s a leader. He’s a captain. He’s a really important person on this team. He’s been my daddy here. He’s actually my daddy here. He and Ian were the guys that made me feel more comfortable my first year here. He’s a big part of this team and I hope he’s here.”

That’s right, Andrus considers Young a father figure. When the club made the decision to start Andrus at shortstop in 2009 despite the fact that he never played a game at Triple-A, Young wasn’t happy with the decision. He voiced his displeasure in public, but after some time to think about it, shifted to third base and did everything he could to help Andrus make the transition to the majors.

It’s difficult to imagine things will be that easy this time, but no one that’s been around Young for any length of time expects him to do anything but show up and go about his business.

“All the speculation that’s happened with how frustrated he’s going to be and how it’s going to effect the team and he’s not going to show up and that he’s this crazy, evil person now is ridiculous,” Kinsler said. “It doesn’t matter what locker room he’s in. As long as he’s here, he’s going to be the same guy that we’ve know. He’s going to be motivated; he’s going to be a leader. I don’t think he expects anything else and we don’t expect anything else.”

This remains Young’s team. He’s earned that standing over a decade-long career in Texas through some rough times. And just because his role has shifted doesn’t mean he still can’t lead. Young is capable of that from the designated hitter and super-utility role just as he was trotting out to third the past two seasons.

A spat with the front office won’t change that, either, if you ask the players. Young is still a highly respected player and person in that room and the team follows his lead. Many players gave Young credit for helping foster a clubhouse that had great chemistry and a group of players that led the example of working hard, but having fun too.

Young isn’t the only leader in that clubhouse. Kinsler is certainly one. So is C.J. Wilson. Adrian Beltre could emerge as well along with a host of other veterans. But Young is, as Washington has said, the key to all of it. No one expects that to change.