Inside the Phillies: Michael Young stays focused amid trade talk

"Compete . . . that's all I really care about. Everything else is just noise," said Michael Young, who has been the subject of trade rumors.
"Compete . . . that's all I really care about. Everything else is just noise," said Michael Young, who has been the subject of trade rumors. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: July 11, 2013

The new experience will not change Michael Young's same old approach.

"This is actually the first time I've ever dealt with [trade rumors] during the season," the Phillies third baseman said Tuesday. "I've dealt with it in the offseason before. It's a lot easier during the season because you have something to look forward to, which is the game.

"You get ready to go out and compete and that's all I really care about. Everything else is just noise to me."

Young has a clear approach to his daily routine. He is always one of the first players on the field - the equivalent of a basketball gym rat. He started working on playing third base as soon as the Phillies acquired him from Texas in December and he hasn't stopped yet.

Character is one of the things that make Young so attractive to any contending team. Whatever quality baseball is left in his 36-year-old body, he will be sure to wring it out with his daily effort.

It worked to the Phillies' advantage Tuesday on a sticky, tense night that resulted in a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. After his team took advantage of a Washington error to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning, Young put a sweet swing on a 1-2 fastball from Nationals rookie Taylor Jordan. It resulted in a two-run double to right-center field that was crucial to the Phillies' sixth win in eight games.

"I think as an offense we're doing a good job right now of having some good at-bats up and down the lineup," said Young, who has batted .339 with eight doubles, four home runs, and 15 RBIs in his last 31 games. "We're going to have to do that if we're going to go where we want to go."

It remains to be seen if Young will go there with them.

As the Phillies sit on the fence between seller and buyer, Young is the player most likely to be traded, regardless of which side general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. comes down on when the July 31 trade deadline arrives.

Young is trying not to listen to the trade talk, but that's pretty much impossible at this time of year. One day it's the New York Yankees, the next day it's the Boston Red Sox.

"I really don't read anything," he said. "I understand there's a different rumor every day, but the only reason I know the teams is because I get asked questions about them."

If the Phillies decide to sell, Young is as good as gone. He has a full no-trade clause, but it's hard to imagine he'd turn down a chance to go to a World Series contender if the Phillies stumble and fall during the final three weeks of July. If, on the other hand, Amaro decides he wants to add a bullpen arm in an effort to make a second-half run, Young could be one of Amaro's best chips to get that reliever.

Either way, he'd be going to a contending team. Noncontenders are not going to have any interest in a 36-year-old player who can be a free agent after the season.

All sorts of rumblings have surfaced as the sands slip through the deadline hourglass. The most recent one came from the New York Daily News, saying the Phillies have talked to the Yankees about a Young deal that would bring the oversize and underachieving Joba Chamberlain to Philadelphia.

"Thanks, but no thanks" should be the Phillies' answer on that one. The Yanks will likely see what they can get from Alex Rodriguez when he returns, but a possible suspension looms for the third baseman when the punishments from the Biogenics investigation are handed out. The Red Sox reportedly have expressed interest in Young, too.

Young, meanwhile, expresses no interest in knowing about any of it.

"One reason is because this is the organization that traded for me and I want to give them everything I've got," he said. "I'm not going to allow myself to consider any other option when we're fighting away. Over the last couple weeks we've been playing better baseball, and that's what I want to focus on."

Young's departure could lead to Cody Asche's arrival from triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"I think he's a great kid with a real bright future," Young said. "I think he's going to do great. I want the best for everybody. I want Cody to establish himself and have a great career, but that has nothing to do with today's ball game. Those things are going to take care of themselves. My only concern is the ball game tonight."

That narrow focus will remain in place for Michael Young no matter how loud the trade talk becomes.

Contact Bob Brookover at Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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