Young might bat second for Rangers

Young might bat second for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Young was back in the second spot in the batting order Sunday, and that's where he could end up during the regular season.

Young hit in the No. 3 spot for most of last season and manager Ron Washington was planning on using him there again this season. Washington envisioned Josh Hamilton in the No. 2 spot because he would potentially see more fastballs there.

Now Washington is considering the idea of using Young in the No. 2 spot with Hamilton right behind him.

"The way Hamilton is swinging the bat, he's showed he can be productive in the middle of the order," Washington said.

Young has batted second more than any other place in the lineup and has a career .316 average there as opposed to .295 as a leadoff hitter and .296 in the No. 3 spot.

The advantage of using him in the No. 3 spot is possibly getting him to the plate with more runners on base and in scoring position. That's when Young has been at his best. Over the past five years, Young is hitting .340 with runners on base, .367 with runners in scoring position and .382 with runners in scoring position with two outs.

"I try not to worry about where I'm hitting or who's hitting around me," Young said. "I've been lucky in my career to hit around some pretty good players. Either way, the pitcher is trying to get you out, so it comes down to executing your plan."

Using Hamilton in the No. 3 spot gives the Rangers more power there. Young had a .418 slugging percentage last year while the American League average for the spot was .463. Hamilton had a .554 slugging percentage for the Reds last year, although he still batted in the leadoff spot more than any other place in the order.

He was pretty good at it, too. His .405 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot was the fourth highest in the Major Leagues for hitters with at least 100 at-bats at the top of the lineup.

"I'm happy wherever they're hitting me," Hamilton said. "It's all the same."

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Washington originally wanted Hamilton hitting in the No. 2 spot because he would get more fastballs hitting ahead of Young. Washington said the No. 3 spot gets more breaking balls and that was a concern about Hamilton. His performance in Spring Training has mollified some of those concerns.

"This guy did pretty good in the big leagues last year and it wasn't all on fastballs," Washington said. "He'll figure it out."

Hamilton has actually been hitting fourth for most of the spring, but Washington is still planning to use Milton Bradley in that position when he's ready. Bradley, starting Sunday for the third straight day as the designated hitter, has been hitting fifth, but Washington still wants him hitting cleanup during the regular season.

Bradley, who underwent knee surgery on Sept. 27, could play three innings in the outfield for the first time Tuesday, Washington said. Bradley is still expected to start the season as the Rangers' designated hitter until his knee is full strength again.

"A lot of it depends how he comes out of it this week," Washington said.

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