Texas Rangers

Michael Young earned teammates’ respect as face of Rangers franchise

Michael Young was sitting with Elvis Andrus before stretching exercises during spring training in the March 2009.

Andrus was preparing to be the Rangers’ everyday shortstop and move Young to third base. Young, the respected veteran, was letting Andrus know that he was there to help him anyway he could.

“I’m here for you. I’m going to try to help you as much as I can. You’re a hell of a player,” Young told the 19-year-old.

Andrus listened intently, all the while sucking on a blow pop.

“If you keep that up I’m going to hit you with that blow pop at any second,” a perplexed Young snapped.

Like a big brother, Young was showing tough love, but also made sure Andrus felt comfortable.

Young will be inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony at Globe Life Park on July 30. The Rangers host the Royals at 7:35 that night. The seven-time All-Star is the 20th member of the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Despite that awkward spring training moment, Young made the transition for Andrus easy. He did the same for Adrian Beltre when the third baseman signed before the 2011 season.

“He was the first guy I spoke to when I came here and he really made me feel comfortable,” Beltre said. “I needed for him to let me know it was OK. I was not going to be comfortable coming here if he wasn’t comfortable with that. I spoke to him and he made it really easy for me.

“He said we need you here to win. He told me I’d rather have you play because I know you can help our ballclub win. It was the final strike to tell me this is where I want to be.”

Young’s presence still looms large in the clubhouse, Beltre said. “We still follow rules that Michael Young put in here,” he said.

Young, 39, has been a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels since November 2014. It’s a role that allows him to serve as a mentor to young players in the organization, including stints during spring training.

“I’ve loved it. I get to communicate with a lot of guys on this team still and I get to have a bit of a mentorship role with the kids in the minor leagues, which is something I really enjoy,” he said. “Having all this knowledge and experience from a major league career is really worthless if you don’t have the opportunity to pass it to other players.”

Like that day in 2009 with Andrus.

“That’s the beauty of it. Not everyone is wired the same way,” Young said. “But when it came time to go out there and play and to work we were very much the same guy. So I love him, I love him like a little brother. I always will.”

Young became the face of the franchise during his 12 full seasons with the Rangers (2001-2012) and still owns the club’s all-time records for games, hits (2,230), runs (1,085), doubles (415), triples (55) and total bases (3,286). He ranks third with 984 RBIs and 647 extra-base hits and hit .301 with 177 homers.

“I never would have anticipated having that kind of relationship with our fans, but it was something that was very real and still is, so I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

Andrus maybe without the blow pop, but he’s still listening to Young’s advice.

“He’s just an amazing person to be around. He makes your day a lot brighter,” Andrus said. “He was the leader when I got here. He showed you how to play the right way. I was really blessed to have someone like him when I got here.”

Rangers Hall of Fame

2003: Charlie Hough, Johnny Oates, Nolan Ryan, Jim Sundberg; 2004: Buddy Bell, Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Vandergriff; 2005: Mark Holtz, John Wetteland; 2006: None; 2007: Rusty Greer; 2008: None; 2009: Toby Harrah, Ruben Sierra; 2010: Tom Grieve; 2011: Kenny Rogers; 2012: Eric Nadel; 2013: Ivan Rodriguez; 2014: Tom Schieffer; 2015: Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Russell; 2016: Michael Young.

Claudio optioned

Shawn Tolleson was reinstated from the league’s family medical emergency list and was available for Friday’s opener against the Mariners.

Left-hander Alex Claudio was optioned to Triple A Round Rock to make room on the roster. Tolleson spent time with his father and family in Allen. His father is battling lymphoma and colon cancer.

“Physically I feel refreshed. Mentally I feel refreshed, ready to go,” Tolleson said. “It was good to spend time with my family. I’ll never admit I needed a mental break, but it was definitely nice, and mentally right now I feel really great and I feel refreshed.”

Tolleson worked out at Frisco every day and threw a live bullpen session to a couple of hitters once.

Choo’s plan

Shin-Soo Choo’s flight to Arizona on Thursday was canceled because of a maintenance issue, so he’ll no longer join Robinson Chirinos for extended spring games in Surprise, Ariz.

Instead, Choo began a rehab assignment with Double A Frisco on Friday night. He was to be used as a DH Friday and Sunday and then move to Triple A Round Rock to play five innings in the field Monday.

He was placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain on May 23 (retroactive to May 21). After a day off Tuesday, he’ll play seven innings Wednesday, DH on Thursday and play consecutive nine-inning games Friday and Saturday before meeting the team in Oakland on Sunday night. He expects to be reinstated for the game against the A’s on June 13.

Choo was stuck on the plane for over two hours before his flight was canceled. When it was clear he wouldn’t make it in time for a 7 p.m. game Thursday, he changed plans. His luggage, however, made the trip to the Arizona and came back on a return flight Friday. Choo, who was sitting in coach with his son, found a silver lining in the whole debacle.

“You lose something, you get something,” he said. “I had a good time, got to be with my son, and talk about how he’s doing in school.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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