When Young joins Team USA later this week to begin preparations
for the World Baseball Classic, he will go as a second baseman. It
will be the first time he's taken grounders on the right side of
the infield since AL MVP Alex Rodriguez left Texas two years ago.
"I'll wait until I get over there," Young said Monday. "I
want to make sure that my teammates know that my No. 1 priority is
improving at shortstop. When I get over there, I'll focus on
second. It won't be a problem."
Before winning the AL batting title last year (.331 average and
majors-best 221 hits) and being an All-Star shortstop for the
second time, Young was the Rangers' starting second baseman for 2½
seasons. He moved to shortstop, his primary position in the minor
leagues, when Rodriguez got traded to the New York Yankees two
Derek Jeter, who remained at shortstop in New York while A-Rod
shifted to third base, is the shortstop for Team USA.
Young was one of the best defensive second basemen in the major
leagues, with only 17 errors in 1,231 total chances (.986 fielding
percentage) in 2002 and 2003 -- his only full seasons at the
position. He was fourth among AL shortstops with a .974 percentage
"Range-wise, it's the same exact position. You have to put a
little more steam on your throws from short," Young said. "I'm
going to go over there and play second, because that's what I was
asked to do. And then I'll come back here and focus on playing
Young and All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira, who won Gold
Glove and Silver Slugger awards last season, are scheduled to join
the U.S. team in nearby Phoenix on Thursday. Both are expected to
play in intrasquad games Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving the
Teixeira will play his normal position during the international
Rangers manager Buck Showalter and his coaches aren't concerned
about Young's temporary switch since it's not a new position for
"It'd be a concern if he's never played second base, but he was
an outstanding second baseman," Rangers infield coach Steve Smith
said. "All he needs to do once he gets there, he's going to work
on it a little bit on his feeds just to feel comfortable."
When Young gets back, the Rangers expect him to pick up where he
leaves off. So does he.
With the exception of being on the right side of the infield,
Young plans to maintain his normal preseason routine while away
from the Rangers -- a stint that could extend as late as March 20 if
the U.S. team managed by Buck Martinez makes it to the finals.
"I have a pretty good routine of what I have to get done,"
Young said. "The great thing about the team that we have going
over there, a majority of the guys are veteran guys. they know
exactly what they need to do to prepare for the season."