“I was born and raised in Covina, and I will never forget that. I will never forget where I came from. I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought I was in position to lend a helping hand, and I was more than happy to do it. Obviously, it was a very tragic situation, and anytime something like that happens close to where I grew up, it hits home — Texas Rangers third baseman and former Bishop Amat standout Michael Young on his 10,000 donation that helped raise money for the Ortega Family following the Christmas Eve Massacre
By Steve Ramirez
ANAHEIM - Michael Young has made it.
He’s been able to fulfill his childhood dream and transcend his roots to become a Major League Baseball All-Star. But even though the Texas Rangers third baseman now lives in Dallas, he’s never forgotten that Covina, and the Valley, still is home. He made that clear earlier this year by donating $10,000 to a fundraiser put on by baseball programs at Northview, Covina, Charter Oak and South Hills high schools to lend support to the Ortega family, which lost several members in the Christmas Eve massacre.
“I was born and raised in Covina, and I will never forget that,” said Young, who is back in Southern California to conclude an important three-game series against the Angels tonight at Angel Stadium.
“I will never forget where I came from. I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought I was in position to lend a helping hand, and I was more than happy to do it. Obviously, it was a very tragic situation, and anytime something like that happens close to where I grew up, it hits home.
“I (try to be a role model). Anything (players from the area) have been through, I’ve been through. I just did it 15 years earlier. I was just happy to help out. I know what it feels like to play baseball here in Southern California and how passionate everyone is to play the game. My only regret was that I wasn’t able to attend (the fundraiser) myself.”
Young, though, continues to be someone area players can look up to, especially on the field.
The veteran, who played high school baseball at Bishop Amat, has been one of the top players in the majors and earned selection to his sixth consecutive All-Star game on Sunday.
This one, though, is expected to be more special. Young, who was game MVP last year, qualified for the American League squad despite moving from shortstop to third base this season, a move that most say is not quite as simple as sliding over a few steps in the Rangers’ defensive alignment.
“It’s been great,” Young said. “It hasn’t been a problem at all. It’s what I expected it would be. It’s definitely a different position, but once I got to spring training and had about six to seven weeks to focus on my job and get prepared, I was excited about the new opportunity, the new challenge. After I got a little time under my belt, I felt real comfortable over there.”
His offensive prowess hasn’t slowed, either.
Young, a lifetime .301 hitter in 10 American League seasons, came into Monday’s series opener against the Angels hitting .314 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. The numbers helped earn him another trip to the Midsummer Classic.
“Every year is special for different reasons,” Young said. “But this one is because it’s my first year at third base. I’ve never been to St. Louis, and it’s going to be fun to play in such a huge baseball town, and I know third base has tons of talented players.
“The list goes on and on of guys having good years at third. Chone Figgins, Brandon Inge, Mikey Lowell, Scott Rolen, Evan Longoria, Alex Rodriguez … there’s just tons and tons of talent at third base, so it makes it really, really special to be going again.”
It’s also been a special year for Young and the Rangers, who began the week tied with the Angels for first place in the American League West. Texas’ 45-35 record was the team’s best 80-game mark since 1999.
“We have a great group of guys,” said Young, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the opener won by the Angels, 9-4. “Anything you do on the field starts in the clubhouse. If you have good chemistry in the clubhouse and a bunch of guys who are on the same page, play hard and play the game the right way, it makes it a lot easier to go out and win.
“On top of that, our pitching and defense has been great this year. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Young is hoping it continues into October.
“We just have to continue to get better,” he said. “We still have three months to go out and prove it. We have to tighten up parts of our game and make them our strengths, but we’re a confident group. Given time, we’re going to find a way to get better as the season progresses.
“Our goal is by the time September rolls around to cut it loose and play.”
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