SURPRISE, Ariz. -- At first base for the Texas Rangers … Michael Young.
That still sounds pretty strange, right? It still feels strange to Young, who will play first base for the third time this spring – and the third time in his life – today against the Dodgers.
“It’s a position I’m really unfamiliar with,” said Young, who reluctantly has become a designated hitter/super utility man to make room for Adrian Beltre. “I haven’t played it at all. I’m just trying to learn something new every game. I’m just trying to trust my instincts over there. I’ve played baseball my whole life, so I’m trying to trust my instincts and get a little better every game.”
Young rattled off a list of adjustments he has to make to succeed at first base: using a different glove, footwork, holding runners on base, knowing how to play bunts, understanding when he’s supposed to be the cut-off man and when he isn’t.
Manager Ron Washington said the most difficult aspect of learning to play first base is understanding where to be when the ball is put in play with runners on base.
“The other parts of it, Mike is an athlete and has already shown he can make those adjustments,” Washington said. “It’ll be just knowing where to be when guys are on the bag and the ball is put in play some place.”
Washington has committed to penciling Young in the lineup on an everyday basis, but he’s not sure how often the captain will play first base. Mitch Moreland will be the regular starter there but won’t play against a lot of tough lefties. Mike Napoli is another proven option against lefties.
But the hope is that Young will feel a lot less awkward at first base by the end of the spring than it sounds to hear him playing that position.