Notes: Rangers hope to lock up Young

Notes: Rangers hope to lock up Young

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks came to camp on Friday to watch Sammy Sosa, but he also wanted to talk with shortstop Michael Young.

The conversation with Young has bigger implications, and Hicks said he was "optimistic" that the Rangers could sign their All-Star shortstop to a long-term contract that would keep him beyond the 2008 season.

"We'd love to do something with him," Hicks said. "He knows this is a business and he's got an agent to do that. Michael should be the face of this franchise, and hopefully we're headed in that direction."

The two sides began discussions in the offseason, and Young said he's leaving it up to his agent, Dan Lozano, and is focusing on baseball. Hicks said he would like to get something done soon or postpone discussions until next spring.

Young is signed through 2007, with a $5 million option for 2008 that is a lock to be picked up by the Rangers.

"We're going to try and see if we can work it out before too long, or see if we can't wait until next year," Hicks said. "Both Michael and I don't want it to be a distraction. We'll have plenty of chances to talk about it in the next couple of weeks, or we'll shut it down."

First baseman Mark Teixeira is also a free agent after '08, but there have been no discussions with agent Scott Boras about a long-term extension for him. Teixeira, who is signed through the 2007 season, is eligible for arbitration next year.

"We'd love to have Tex," Hicks said. "But Tex has an agent who follows a different process. We'll talk to Tex down the road."

Second baseman Ian Kinsler's contract is also simmering. He has yet to agree to a contract extension for 2007 and his agent, Jay Franklin, was in camp on Friday to meet with the Rangers. The two sides are expected to at least discuss a long-term deal with the Rangers that would avoid future arbitration hearings.

Selig approval sought: Hicks said he called Commissioner Bud Selig in the offseason before the Rangers signed Sammy Sosa to let him know what was happening.

Hicks said Selig was all for it.

"He was very supportive," Hicks said. "He's fond of Sammy, and thinks Sammy is good for baseball. He thought it was a very positive move for the Rangers to bring Sammy back."

Spring Training
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First-squad workout: Everyone but pitcher Jose Vargas was in camp on Friday, as the Rangers went through their first full workout. Vargas, delayed in Mexico because of visa problems, is expected in camp on Sunday.

Manager Ron Washington again addressed the whole squad, saying pretty much the same thing that he did with the pitchers and catchers a week ago.

"Team and fundamentals," Washington said. "We've got to be one and care for each other, have each other's backs and execute. That's the main thing, let's be a team and execute."

Hicks made his first appearance in camp, but, unlike past seasons, he did not address the team. He may at some point later in the spring.

"This is my favorite day of the year," Hicks said. "I'm an optimist, and there's no optimism like the first day of spring. Everybody has a chance to win. You always feel that way.

"But listening to my manager, this year I'm feeling it even stronger. I like what I see and what I feel."

Rice stands out: Scott Rice, a 6-foot-6 left-hander who is in camp on a Minor League contract, stood out during the Friday bullpen sessions, according to pitching coach Mark Connor.

"He's 6-foot-6 with an average fastball and a little above average breaking ball," Connor said. "He's intriguing. He seems to be a smart kid. I've done a couple of things with him and didn't have to tell him twice."

Rice, signed as a six-year Minor League free agent in the offseason, was 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 52 games at Triple-A Ottawa with the Baltimore Orioles organization last season. Left-handers hit .193 off Rice.

Quoteable: "If I'm healthy, I don't see any reason why I can't be at least close to what I once was." -- Rangers reliever Eric Gagné

Briefly: Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on outfielder Brad Wilkerson: "He's looking better than anybody as far as his timing. He's getting back to what we worked on last spring. He got away from that -- probably because of his shoulder -- but he worked hard in the offseason. You can tell." ... John Rheinecker is the only pitcher not throwing. He is sidelined with back spasms and is day-to-day. ... Rangers pitchers have been alternating daily throwing sessions in the bullpen. Both groups take a day off on Saturday, and then the first group starts throwing to hitters on Sunday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.