Leadership will be a group effort

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It's days like today, when the club meets as a whole for the first time, that not having Michael Young around is very noticeable.

He was the one the media would turn to in order to gauge how the Rangers were feeling and to see what words of wisdom he might have shared as the team gets ready for the upcoming season. Young wasn't a rah-rah guy -- leading by example more than words -- but he knew when to say something, and players looked toward him in key moments.

But Young is in Florida with the Philadelphia Phillies. Ian Kinsler now has Young's locker and, with a solid group of veterans, will fill part of the leadership void left by Young's departure.

The reality is it's a strong leadership group and has been for years. Young never did it by himself.

"I did a lot of communicating with Michael, and I think this year I’m going to have to do that with someone else," Kinsler said. "That’s what it comes down to. Is that going to change my leadership role? I don’t know. There’s plenty of guys in here who have tremendous amount of experience and are very good at this game. We have a lot of guys to lean on. Hopefully, I can join that group."

The truth is that he's already in that group. Kinsler has helped Young lead the past few years and will be looked upon again to provide a leadership role. But so will Adrian Beltre, Joe Nathan, Lance Berkman, Colby Lewis, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski and young players like Elvis Andrus. Others will emerge too.

"You don’t try and replace a guy like that," Nathan said about Young. "That's especially true of what he did in the clubhouse. We have replaced them with very good veteran guys as well. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Lance Berkman. We want to bring guys in that can contribute and do what they do to win games."

Berkman arrived Friday and is ready to embrace his role as a leader.

“One of the advantages of being old is that these guys are kind of forced to listen to you, even if they want to or not,” Berkman said. “In the baseball totem pole, I’m right at the top, and I’m enjoying it and I relish the role of being able to try to bring a team together. It’s not one guy. You can’t rely on one guy to do that.

“It’s got to be a group of guys, and it has to be everyone pulling on the rope together, to use a cheesy cliché. We’ve got the guys in here, guys like Joe Nathan and even some of the guys, like Colby, that are in the middle of their careers like Ian or David Murphy. They can step up and help be that. Obviously, Adrian. It’s a tremendous clubhouse group.”