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Young eager for challenge of playing on a new team

Young eager for challenge of playing on a new team

Young eager for challenge of playing on a new team
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel left Michael Young a voicemail on Monday, and it did not take long for a return call.

Manuel liked what he heard on the other end.

"He's excited, and I'm excited," Manuel said on Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils acquired Young in a trade on Sunday with the Rangers, and he will be their everyday third baseman in 2013. In exchange, Texas got right-handed relievers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla to help its bullpen next season and beyond. The Rangers are picking up $10.5 million of Young's $16 million salary, and the two teams are splitting the $1.2 million transaction fee paid Young to waive his no-trade rights.

"The baseball part was easy," Young told reporters on Monday in Texas. "I have a great opportunity in Philadelphia, having the opportunity to go from one great team to another. They have a position for me; I was ready for a new challenge. I like a new challenge. As a competitor, I want to see what it's like. The hard part was my family and what it would be like for them, being away for a summer. But once we embraced that, the baseball part was easy."

What kind of third baseman will the Phillies be getting?

Young hit .277 with 27 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 67 RBIs last season. His .682 on-base-plus-slugging percentage was the lowest of his career. In 2011, Young hit .338 with 41 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 106 RBIs and an .854 OPS.

"As far as my season, I would have liked to have made a quicker adjustment," Young said. "It was the first year I felt there was something physically wrong with my swing. Physically, I felt the same. My strength has always been my bat speed, and I felt my bat speed never really left me. But in the middle of the season, I knew something was wrong. Pitches that I always hit on a line to right-center, the other way, I was hitting on the ground. ... I was grounding out to shortstop, to third base. I finally said, 'That's enough.' I went to the video and started to figure out what I was doing wrong. [From] Sept. 1 through the Wild Card game, I felt I was swinging normally. I felt I made a good adjustment."

Young hit .324 with an .867 OPS from Sept. 2 through the end of the regular season, so the Phils certainly hope he is right. They could use the help offensively.

"He definitely has a chance to hit .300 for us," Manuel said. "I look forward to him having a big season. He's a good player. ... He's a contact hitter. He hits the ball all over the field. There is such a thing as a guy having a down season or an off season. He's a proven Major League hitter, a .300 hitter. I look forward to him [adding] some production to our lineup."

Young has not played third base regularly since 2010, so there is going to be an adjustment period after shuttling from various positions each of the previous two seasons.

"I'm looking forward to it," Young said. "Switching positions is tough. It's really tough to stay in rhythm defensively. It's all about getting reps. Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman I've ever seen. He'd take one ground ball after another. I'd be right there with him and then have to take my glove over to second base. I'm looking forward to getting back to one spot. I'm looking forward to getting down to Clearwater and putting all my work in at third base."

Young is a career .301 hitter, winning the American League batting title in 2005. He is a seven-time All-Star, five-time winner of the Rangers' Player of the Year Award, two-time winner of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 All-Star Game.

He played in 1,823 games for Texas, the most in team history. He is the Rangers' all-time leader in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and total bases.

Young sounds eager to meet his new teammates and get going.

"Cliff Lee was my teammate; I obviously have a relationship with Cliff Lee," he said. "I've known Jimmy Rollins for a long time. I've played with Chase Utley in the [World Baseball Classic], so I got to know him, and I played with Laynce Nix in Texas. I have spoken with him as well. Other guys I've known, too. Roy Halladay has gotten me out a lot, but I have a relationship with him from our time with the Blue Jays. That will allow me a bit of a comfort level.

"It's a championship-caliber team. I'm looking forward to being a part of it. There are guys on that team with World Series rings who have been in big games. So have I. I'll be right there with them. At the end of the day, this is what I do. I'm a competitor. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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