ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers will honor Michael Young in a pregame ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Saturday before facing the Toronto Blue Jays. And manager Ron Washington will be one of the first people to show his appreciation.
When Washington became manager of the club before the 2007 season, Young was already ensconced as the leader of the team. From the beginning, Young's support of Washington was unwavering.
"My first year here, there was a lot of turmoil, but he was always on my side," Washington said from his office Friday. "That's something I'll never forget. He gave me a chance to become the manager of the Texas Rangers and I've been sitting here for eight years. Because you can't please everybody. But the ones that weren't pleased, he kept them in check."
That loyalty extended into 2010, when the skipper faced his team and apologized to his players when word leaked of his failed drug test. It was Young who was the first to stand up and tell the manager he would support him. His teammates followed.
"He made my job easy," Washington said. "He handled things in the clubhouse, [and] came to me when he felt like I needed to step in. I didn't have to dibble dabble in the things that went on in the clubhouse. He kept that straight. That's what veteran players do and that's what he did for me."
Washington went on to talk about how Young was a part of the franchise's best years so far, helping make a "difference in a lot of people's careers and lives."
"He's a class act," Washington said. "He learned the game from the proper people and passed it on. He was a pro. He meant a lot to us and to those guys in the clubhouse. He was a sounding board. He was a leader in the sense that you never knew when things weren't going right with Michael Young because he never changed the way he went about his business. He always believed and the people around him couldn't do anything but believe. He meant a lot."
Washington says an "injustice" would be done if Young isn't back in baseball. The veteran has talked about joining the Rangers organization and that's likely to happen, the question is when and in what role.