Cliff Lee was thrilled when the Phillies picked up Michael Young.
“I know what he brings to the team,” Lee said. “I loved having him as a teammate when I was with the Rangers. I know he’ll be out there everyday.”
Young’s durability is just one reason he should be more productive than his predecessor, the oft-injured Placido Polanco.
But there are a number of other reasons why Phillies fans should be pleased Young is part of the squad. He went 0-3 in the spring training opener Saturday against the Houston Astros, but made solid contact.
“The thing is that I felt good out there,” Young said. “My timing starts up a little late. I always feel like I’m backing the ball up a lot, but it gets to a point where you’ll see me hit the ball to all fields.”
That would be a welcome change for the Phillies. Young tends to put the ball in play. He hits line drives and finds the gaps.
“He’s a professional hitter,” Lee said. “He is also a heck of a defensive player.”
Young made the routine plays Saturday, but couldn’t handle a scorcher to his right, which bounced off his glove. He also failed to reach a hot shot to his left.
“The first one I handled [Saturday] was easy, but the second one was smoked to my right,” Young said. “You want the balls hit hard to you in spring training, especially early on like we are now. The routine plays take care of themselves typically. It’s still very early in spring training. I’ll nail this down.”
During his final year in Texas, Young was shuttled all over the place.
“It’s better to be in one place on the field,” Young said. “I’m thrilled to be playing for the Phillies. I’ll play the best third base I can for them.”
The greatest third baseman to play for the Phillies — and arguably in the history of the sport — Mike Schmidt said that Young should be on his way to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s nice to hear that coming from one of the best to ever play the game,” Young said. “I know there are expectations of me coming here and I want to meet those expectations.”
Cementing the hot corner
Is Michael Young the solution at third base? The Phillies haven’t had an all-around solid contributor at the hot corner since Scott Rolen cried his way out of town. David Bell and his balky back, Pedro ‘all-field, no-hit’ Feliz and the broken down Placido Polanco are some of the guys the team has tried in the Charlie Manuel era.
“But wait until you see Michael during the regular season,” Mike Adams said. “He’s a difference-maker.”
Adams, who was his teammate in Texas, raves about Young’s work ethic.
“He puts in the time. He prepares as much as anybody in the game,” Adams said.
Young’s career-worst .277 batting average and 67 RBIs last season would have stood out on the 2012 Phillies. The former would have been the second-best average on the team and the latter was one short of the Phillies’ RBI lead.