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December 6, 2006
RON WASHINGTON: Other guys have to pick it up. That's the attitude I'm taking, so we can't worry about what's not here. We can only concern ourselves with what's here. That's the attitude I'm taking and that's the attitude I want my players to take.
Q. Who do you feel like picks some of that up?
RON WASHINGTON: I've still got Teixeira, I've still got Michael Young, I've still got Hank Blaylock, I still have Ian Kinsler. We're looking for big things from Cruz, looking for Gerald Laird to help us out. As long as I've got me four good backs, we'll manage.
Q. How do the Rangers match up among (Inaudible)?
RON WASHINGTON: I thought they matched up pretty well amongst the best. You know, everybody can use improvement, and I've had conversations with these guys, and they're all interested in one thing, getting better. We know how good they are, but they're interested in getting better, and that's a good sign right there.
Q. Have you talked to them all?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes, I have, I've talked to every one of them.
Q. How will they get better? How can they get better?
RON WASHINGTON: Just believing they can get better will make them better, going out there doing the proper work, developing proper technique of work and continuing to have the work ethic that they have. The game of baseball is about repetition, repeat everything you know how to do and just keep repeating it.
Q. You talked to Blaylock?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes.
Q. And you're ready to go 162, 160?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm ready for him to play a lot of games. If I can keep him out there for 162 and he's performing, I will keep him out there for 162.
Q. He's going to play against lefties?
RON WASHINGTON: He's going to start playing against lefties, yes, he is.
Q. Do you just feel like go with him, show him that you have confidence?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes, that's what Hank needs. I don't want Hank coming around thinking, looking over his shoulder and wondering if he's going to play today and wondering if he's going to play tomorrow. He's too talented for that. He should be coming to the ballpark saying, I'm going to be the best I can be, and that's the attitude I want to project.
Q. Out of the players that you've met, did anyone surprise you or give you something that you weren't expecting?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I've seen these guys from afar for the last, what, 11 years? I know they haven't been here that long. Ever since they've arrived, I became a friend of theirs, just speaking to them, wondering how they're feeling, and they've impressed me with their attitude about the game. Every time I've talked to them they've always mentioned how bad they want to win, and with that type of attitude, if we can maintain that type of attitude -- but not only the attitude, go out there and perform up to what we say we are or what we think, then I think you've crossed that bridge. We have very talented kids.
Q. Does it make any difference at all that you have perceived goals right now and the number of free agents that you've lost?
RON WASHINGTON: No, because my projected time is April 2nd, it's not December the 6th or January the 2nd or the 3rd. My projected time is April 2nd, and I trust my general manager and the people that are out there looking for players to fill the holes that come April 2nd they'll supply me with what I need to go to war. Until then I'm not concerned with anything other than making sure I continue to project a positive attitude and the direction in which I would like us to start going.
Q. We were talking about Zito a little bit before, but you weren't there when he made it into Texas. Have you made a call to him over the last few days?
RON WASHINGTON: I've made three calls to him, and I haven't had a call back yet, but that's the way Zito is. You call Zito and then all of a sudden your phone rings and you pick it up and it's Barry Zito. I know he's a busy guy and I know he got my message, and when he finds time to call me back, he will.
Q. What will you tell him if you get a chance to do a pre-signing sales pitch?
RON WASHINGTON: Welcome to Texas (laughter).
Q. If Barry were to call you right now and say, Ron, I love you, but why should I come to Texas, what would you say?
RON WASHINGTON: Because we're going to win here. I mean, if he wants to be on a team watching in October, he can go someplace else. I mean that with all my heart and soul. If I don't think I could win, I wouldn't be here. I mean, he knows the attitude that I project, and he knows when I say something that I'm going to do what I have to do to meet that challenge.
Expectations is what I put on myself, and I'm putting expectations on everybody that's around me, and all we're going to have to do is go out there and work and meet those expectations. He knows this. I would say, "welcome to Texas," and believe me, at the end of the time we won't be one of the 20-something teams watching it on TV, we'll be playing.
Q. Have you ever talked about him about where he might go in free agency before?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I've never talked to him about that. The one conversation I had when he called to congratulate me for getting the manager, I just told me to make sure that he puts Texas on his list of teams that he would see, and he told me without a doubt. He finally came to Texas, and I think his visit was very, very good. Once again, it's up to him and his agent and the people in Texas that write the checks to decide if he's a great fit.
Q. Do you pay much attention as a lot of these free agents are signing for such large amounts of money?
RON WASHINGTON: I wouldn't say I pay attention to it, but I do see it. I wish when I was playing that I was getting it (laughter). But that's the way the market is. I want them to get all they can get because I was a player and I'm a player's guy. I want them to get all they can get. Sometimes when a player you want is trying to get all he can get, he just don't fit.
I'm the kind of guy that I'm going to deal with what I have and I'm not going to concern myself with what I didn't get or what I don't have because I have 25 guys, a front office and an owner to try to think positive about anything we got and believing that we can get the job done.
Q. You're pretty confident, you're not shy, you're pretty confident about --
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I'm a baseball man, and I've been around winning for eight of my 11 years in Oakland, and nobody ever gave us a chance. So I know what can happen in a clubhouse when you have everybody pulling in the same direction. That's what I'm trying to do, and if I get that done, I have no doubt I'm going to win.
Q. What were your impressions of the bullpen?
RON WASHINGTON: I thought it was one of the best bullpens in the game, I really did. I just thought there wasn't too many positions out there identified. When I say that, I mean at a certain time of the game when that phone rings down there, you know it's yours, that's the one thing I want to try to make sure that I implement, that everyone knows what their role is down there, and I think if I do that, it'll be much more of a relaxing situation, and if I stick to that consistently, I think these players' confidence can go sky high, and when you've got a player's confidence sky high, no telling what might happen on a baseball field.
Q. I know you've seen the Rangers obviously for many years being in the same division, but what else have you had to do and how much time have you spent getting to know the personnel through watching videos or whatever?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm not into videos, I'm a real-time man. I see it and I identify it. I spent a lot of time with a lot of the players just trying to explain to them what I expect, and I want them to tell me what they expect. I'm just trying to change the culture, I'm trying to change the attitude, I'm trying to change the way we do business, and the way we do business is making sure we've got all our I's dotted and all our T's crossed and that calls for fundamentals. I'm a fundamentally sound guy and I want all our players to be fundamentally sound, and I'm going to do the best I can in Spring Training to do that.
Q. When you've talked to the players one-on-one you've told them what you expect, what did they tell you that they expect? Did they tell you that there's a culture of no fundamentals, and what's their biggest concern for a manager?
RON WASHINGTON: No, they didn't tell me that there wasn't no culture there for fundamentals, but from what I gathered from them, there was a culture there where their back wasn't gotten all the time. I'm a player's guy so I will always have their back, through good and through bad.
Q. They didn't feel support?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes.
Q. In what way?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, they didn't specify. Once they told me they didn't feel support, that's all I needed to hear. I didn't go into specifics. I'm a player's manager, I will always be a player's manager because I was a player. I don't look at the game through rose colored glasses. I know the difficulty. Everything that they experience I've experienced as a player. I've been on the good side and I've been on the bad side, so when things are not going right for them, I know how they feel, and I've been through it so I know what it takes to come out of it. I'll be there to make sure that we pave the way for them to have a chance to come out of their struggles because in this game the superstars succeed three times out of ten, so why worry about the seven times you fail. There is gonna be failure.
Q. You talked about leadership. Do you see any value in having a captain?
RON WASHINGTON: I've never thought about that. I do want my veteran players to be the leaders. I want them to make sure that everyone in that clubhouse is accountable for every one, even themselves, and if we can get everyone accountable for everyone, I think your focus and your concentration level stays higher longer. We've got a 162-game season. It's hard to stay at a peak for 162 games.
But if you're trying to focus and you're accountable to everyone else, and one thing about baseball players, they don't want to let their own teammates down, and if I can get them with that type of attitude where they don't want to let their teammates down, I think the focus and concentration will last longer and that will help us through the dog days in July and August and September in Texas.
Q. You were talking about confidence. Do you think this is a team whose confidence is down?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I don't think their confidence is down. I just think sometimes that weather in Texas just drains you, especially when you've got young kids that have this mentality of showing up every day to the starting gate. Sometimes you have to pull them back, pull the reins back on them. You can't let them know when they're ready to sit down because they'll never tell you that. You have to pay attention to the pulse of your team and you have to adjust accordingly.
Q. One of the things that you guys did well in Oakland is play great in the second half. I always thought it was because you had great young pitching over the course of 162. That was my theory. What is your theory on why you guys played so well in the second half, and is it applicable to Texas?
RON WASHINGTON: We played very well in the second half because we always played great baseball from the beginning of the season when a lot of people didn't understand we identified our problems early when we were struggling, and they were one hit, one pitch and one play. When you can say one hit, one pitch and one play away from winning any ballgame, you're not really struggling. That's why we never panicked. As we got past the All star break, all of a sudden we got that one pitch, we got that one play and we got that one hit and we started rolling. You've got to identify when you're not going well, and you've got to identify this is happening. You can't be waiting for it to blow up before you identify it, and we did a great job in Oakland of identifying our problem and knowing that that's all it was. So our work ethic, we kept straight ahead. We didn't panic in the clubhouse and we didn't let our players panic. So when they didn't see the coaching staff panic, they didn't panic, and they maintained being who they are, and that's the one thing I want to bring to Texas is have those kids know every day they can be who they are. If they're clowns, act like clowns.
Q. Was there a time in these last 10 or 11 years where you felt maybe you wouldn't get a chance to be a manager?
RON WASHINGTON: I never thought that. I always knew that it would only take one thing, a general manager to convince an owner that Ron Washington is the guy that he wants to guide his team, and in 2006 it happened here in Texas. I never gave up on that, simply because I knew I was a good baseball man and it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and I ended up in the right place at the right time with the Texas Rangers.
Q. Do you think post-season will happen this year? Is it inevitable? How confident are you?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm very confident that it will happen. I wouldn't be sitting here and I wouldn't want to go into a season thinking that I didn't have a chance at postseason. If it don't happen, I'll be shocked. It's just that simple. My whole goal is to get started in Spring Training and take it from there, just get them as prepared as I can possibly get them, teach them great work ethic, make them believe in each other, and have a one-for-all, all-for-one attitude and go out there and execute the fundamentals when the part of the game determines that we have to execute fundamentals, and if we do that, we're going to win. I have no doubt about it.
Q. How important was it to you to be able to get a couple guys like Art Howe and Gary Pettis?
RON WASHINGTON: It was most important for them to get Art Howe. He brought my comfort level as high as it could possibly get when I was able to get Art Howe. Gary Pettis is an excellent outfield instructor and teacher and he's one of the best base running guys I've ever known. I played with Gary, I played against Gary, so to get those two guys is just awesome, and they're teachers.
They're not going to let a kid say he can't. Every kid is as good as the No. 1 kid. No kid will be left behind.
Q. Envisioning the personality you have currently on the roster, do you think you'll steal more bases?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm going to give them that opportunity. I'll give them that opportunity until they show me they can't do it, and when they show me that they can't do it on their own, then I'll have to pick spots, but I'm certainly going to give them an opportunity to run more. That's one thing they told me in my visits with them, they wanted to run the bases more, they wanted to be able to steal. When opportunity is there, I'm going to give them that opportunity. But if they're not executing it, then I have to pick spots.
Q. Other than obviously the chance to manage, was there anything specifically attractive about the Texas job that you liked?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, I really hadn't zeroed in on Texas. Texas zeroed in on me. So when Texas zeroed in on me, I was very, very interested. I can't sit here and say that that was one thing that interested me because I never thought that I would get an opportunity to interview for the Texas Rangers job. And then when I was told, I was overwhelmed because I know the kids over here. I know how hard they play on the field. I know how bad they want to win because I had conversations with them.
So when this opportunity came, I just came in and tried to be who I was and hoped that I could impress someone to give me that opportunity, and I did.
Q. Where were you when you found out that you were going to be the manager?
RON WASHINGTON: Oh, when I found out I was going to be the manager? I was sitting in Mr. Hicks' home. I was sitting in his home. We were just casually sitting around, and he said, "I want you to be my manager for the Texas Rangers."
Q. When you're alone just thinking about life in general over the past few years, did you ever make a list of all 30 teams and say I'd love that job, God, I hope that's not the one? Did you ever rank the teams?
RON WASHINGTON: You know, last year when I was interviewing for jobs, I wanted to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and I wanted to manage them for the young talent they had because I'm a teacher. And because I'm a teacher, I'm not concerned about wins and losses because if I've got the talent and I can get to them and teach them how to play this game correctly, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.
To be honest with you, Tampa Bay is the only team that I identified that I would have liked to manage. That's the only team that I said, geez, I would like to manage that team.
Q. When you think about a center fielder, what would you say you'd really like to have in a center fielder?
RON WASHINGTON: Main skills: Catch balls that are supposed to be caught, bottom line. Nothing more, nothing less. I want a guy out there that can go up that catches the balls that are supposed to be caught.
RON WASHINGTON: You know, you can get guys and you say cover a lot of -- amount of ground. Most of that out there is instincts. We will help these guys in the outfield hopefully get in a position where we think the guys are hitting the balls the most. All this stuff comes into play. I've seen guys without a whole lot of speed have better range than guys with speed because they're more instinctive. I want to make sure I have a guy in the middle of that field, which is the most important part of the baseball field, the middle, to catch baseballs that are supposed to be caught. I don't expect any more than that.
Q. You mentioned the fact that you like to teach the game. Are there any young prospects coming up who you're excited to get your hands on?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, when I was coaching, like I say, I was excited to get my hands on them. But right now being a manager, we have specific positions for people, and I will give my expertise in areas, but I'm going to let my infield coach do his work.
I haven't identified anyone. Of course I'd like to get my hands on Hank Blaylock, I'd like to get my hands on Ian Kinsler, and if Art needs my help, I'm going to be there and supply all the expertise I have in infield play, and I have a lot.
Q. I'm not talking about Michael Young, but you have a guy like with a Ian Kinsler. As a shortstop and a teacher do you get excited about the possibilities you might have with a Joaquin Arias?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes, I do. You can't help it. This kid is an excellent young player. He's only 21 years old. Like you said, we have Michael Young there right now. The Texas Rangers have high hopes for Arias. He's just going to have to wait his time. I came up through the Dodgers organization, and I killed AAA a few times, and I still went back to AAA. Why? Because they had Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Steve Garvey sitting on that infield, and they weren't moving. They weren't moving me, either, so all you could do was keep growing until that opportunity comes. And we want to keep this kid growing until his opportunity comes.
RON WASHINGTON: Yes, I am. I'm planning on going down there and see some young kids down there, and I think it would help them to see the manager come down and get up close and personal with him. So I want to do that. I mean, that's what I do, I get to know the players, I want to know their families. I want them to be able to talk to me about anything that's on their mind because I can't free them of things that stops their development if I don't know. I think you have to try to be friend them. I think in the old days you could put that coach-player barrier up. Today I think you have to know your players up close and personal.
Q. Would you do that in January?
RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, I'll probably do it after the New Year's.
Q. Some coaches that have gone on to be managers say they miss coaching because they're not really a part of the game, they're not teaching anymore, they're not out on the field as much. You being such a teacher and part of the game, do you worry that maybe you're going to miss being involved in the day-to-day aspects of on the field and become more of an administrator, and if so, how do you handle that? Some managers, for instance, make sure they pitch batting practice for 20 minutes a day or something.
RON WASHINGTON: And I'm going to be that manager. I don't think about that because I'm the one setting the schedule, so I'm going to set the schedule up so I can take care of what I have to take care of behind the scenes and I can get on the field. I'm the one that sets the schedule, and I won't get in my coaches' way, but I'm a field guy. Every time I get an opportunity to get on the field, you will see me on the field. I'm the one that sets the schedule.
Q. How is your BP?
RON WASHINGTON: My BP is awesome.
Q. You have a good BP?
RON WASHINGTON: I throw the best in baseball.
Q. What's attractive about being a manager?
RON WASHINGTON: Just being able to implement your own ideas, trying to create an atmosphere that you think is conducive to winning. I've been in that atmosphere and I just want to see if I can create it in Texas. I know I can. I've always created it as a teacher, I've always created it as a coach. I don't see why I can't create it as a manager. I'm the man in charge now.
Q. Did somebody suggest to you, Ron, you'd be a good manager or did you just decide one day I'd like to be a manager? Do you remember when the light went on?
RON WASHINGTON: There were people suggesting to me I'd be a good manager simply because when you asked questions about baseball I had the answers. I've always guided people in the right direction. I've always been a problem solver, even as a player. A guy would come to me with a problem and I was able to decipher it and help him understand what he has to do to solve that problem. I was born to be a baseball guy, period. And now I'm a manager.
Being a manager don't identify Ron Washington, Ron Washington was already identified before he became a manager. My place in baseball is already there. Now all I am now is a guiding force to try to take all the obstacles out of the way and making sure we can make everybody feel good about themselves and that way the talent can flow.
Q. Who's your most influential manager from your playing days?
RON WASHINGTON: Tommy Lasorda. Dusty Baker didn't manage me but Dusty Baker was the guy that took me under his belt when I first came to LA. You've got to say Buzzy Keller, my very first manager in the baseball academy, Dr. Steve Cocheck (phonetic), who was the guy that ran the baseball academy. Syd Thrift who signed me, Chico Fernandez, who I got my infield knowledge from; the Kansas City Royals organization, period, they gave me an opportunity; the Dodgers organization, they gave me an opportunity to -- the things that I've learned in this game, let them come out on the field.
There was a lot of people along the way. John Hart, who used to be the general manager of the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians, he was my AAA manager. My name was the only name that was on the lineup card when I arrived at the ballpark during the day before a game because he knew one thing, when Ron Washington arrived he was ready to play. These are the type of guys that made an impression on me, and these are the type of guys that kept me focused. These are the type of guys that made me a student of baseball.
Q. In a sentence or two, what did John Hart teach you about baseball?
RON WASHINGTON: He taught me about showing up every day ready to go, just coming up to the finish line. He was an upbeat guy. He was very positive. He made you feel good about yourself, and he certainly made me feel good about myself, which he didn't have to do because I already felt good about myself, but he did because I walked in the clubhouse and I saw a lineup card and the only name pencilled in there was Washington. How do you think that will make you feel.
Q. Where was that?
RON WASHINGTON: This was in Rochester.
Q. When was that?
RON WASHINGTON: This was in 1987.
Q. I'm sure you had a lot of kids back then with the Orioles.
RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, there was.
Q. He was saying this is who you need to model yourself after?
RON WASHINGTON: Yes, role model-type kids.
Q. When were people telling you that you were managerial material and if it was that long ago are you surprised it's taken so long to get to the position you are in?
RON WASHINGTON: It's hard for me to go back and say exactly what happened. As far as the length, I'm only 54 years old. I'm young. I've seen a lot of guys didn't get it until they were in their 60s or close to their 70s. I've never concerned myself with that because I've always concerned myself with the job at hand, and I knew if I did the job that I had at hand, the rest of it would fall in place. And once again, I keep repeating the same thing, it just goes back to the fact that some general manager has got to convince an owner that I'm the guy, and John Daniels did that.
Q. How does an infielder and an infield coach learn pitching and how do you get comfortable with the pitching? What's the learning curve there for you?
RON WASHINGTON: The learning curve is to rely on the experience of my pitching coach. I hit pitching and I hit it very well, so I may not have any experience dealing with pitching, but I can tell by the sound of a bat that he should be taken out of a ballgame (laughter). And I have my bench coach there, Art Howe, who I trust without a doubt. He's been managing in the big leagues for 15 years, and I'm quite sure he'll let me know when it's time. Every time when they let me know it's time, I'm learning.
Q. What do you think the biggest adjustment is going from being a coach to a manager?
RON WASHINGTON: Being in charge of everything, having the responsibility fall on your shoulder if things don't go right. That's the biggest adjustment. But then I'm not afraid of that because I wake up every morning with pressure on me even before I became a manager. Pressure is part of the game, that's there every day and there's nothing you can do about it. If you're feeling it, you can't see, and my eyes will always be open. My bench coach's eyes will always be open. I have an open policy with my coaches. If they're seeing something that they think needs to be done, it's not being done, I want them to be able to tell me.
No, I'm making everybody around me available to see things that I might miss, and I'm having them to have open dialogue when they see it.
Q. You're not daunted by this task of a team that hasn't had a winning season the last seven years? You're not daunted about anything in this organization, the negatives that you know are out there?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I'm not concerned about the negatives because I'm going to try to -- I'm going to try to make the positives as good as I can make them, and then maybe it'll overshadow some of those negatives. Can't do nothing about negatives.
Q. Are you the type of manager that would like to manage by the seat of your pants, gut feeling as opposed to using a lot of statistics in order to make decisions on lineups, pitchers, that type of deal?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm a gut man. That's the way I was brought up in the game. But because of all the statistics that are available, I will use statistics.
Q. It's got to be mind boggling because there's so much.
RON WASHINGTON: I'm not going to be concerning myself with all the statistics that people give me. I'm going to look at something, and if it works, I'll use it, and if it don't work, I won't use it. I'm going to keep it simple. But I'm going to have all that available because you never know what you might find and I'm not going to not use everything that's available to me. I'm going to use every resource that's available to me, but I'm going to do what my gut tells me and what my eyes see and what my baseball instincts tell me.
Q. How much would being in Oakland for as long as you have been, how much will that help you beat them when you prepare for them. Can that help?
RON WASHINGTON: Of course. But if I don't implement what I know to be their weaknesses, and if my players don't implement what I know to be their weaknesses, it doesn't matter the knowledge I have of them.
I think it's going to give us an advantage because I do believe I know how to get those guys out, but the only way we're going to do that is if we have to match their pitching and their defense. If we do that and we make our pitches where I think the weaknesses are, we'll be --
Q. In other words you've been watching Eric Chávez for years, so you can actually say I know his weakness, I know how he's been battling, it might be something as specific as that?
RON WASHINGTON: I know. I know. I've been there, I don't miss anything. I may not say much, but I don't miss anything. I know. Now we've just got to implement it, we've just got to execute it.
Q. Lasorda was a pretty -- he was one of the guys you mentioned. He was a pretty confident guy, we're going to win it all and all of that. How much of that rubbed off on you?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, when I was in LA he had me believing that I bled blue, he really did. He was a very positive guy. He'd pat people on the back. He never said much negative, and if he had something to say to you that he didn't like, he brought you into his office and sat you down, and there was always a story before he knocked you down. Tommy is a very funny guy, he's a very smart guy, and he actually gave me an opportunity to come to the big leagues. He was very good with me. As a matter of fact, he was very good with a lot of players over there.
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