CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Michael Young stood in front of his locker on Friday at Bright House Field and answered a familiar question.
Can he play third base?
Placido Polanco answered the same question in Spring Training 2010 after he spent previous seasons playing second base with the Tigers. Now Young, like Polanco, must prove he can handle third again. He played there regularly with the Rangers from 2009-10 (and 358 games in his career) before shuffling around the field the previous two seasons. And although he is not known for his glove like Polanco, the Phillies hope Young can handle the position competently.
"I've played there before," Young said. "I have experience playing third base. I've had a full season over there. I've played in the World Series at third base before. As far as re-acclimating myself to it, it's nothing a little hard work can't fix. That's why I was looking forward to getting down here."
Young, 36, spends his offseasons in Dallas, so he worked indoors, which included fielding ground balls.
"Those are things that are part of normal offseason preparation heading into a season," he said. "Then you get down here and you're ready to go and the second they say, 'Go, in Spring Training, you put your work in and you're ready for Opening Day."
While defense certainly will be important, the Phillies hope Young produces offensively. He endured a career-low .682 OPS last season, but he said he believes he solved a mechanical flaw in his swing late in the year, which allowed him to hit .301 with an .801 OPS in September. If he can replicate that success over a six-month span in 2013, the Phillies will be thrilled.
"I'm looking forward to it," Young said. "Whatever [manager Charlie Manuel] needs me to do, I'll do. I know right now my role is to play third base every day and it's something I'm looking forward to, but I'm prepared to do anything my team needs me to do to help them win games."