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October 9, 2010

Ron Washington


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for Ron.

Q. Wash, can you sense the mood of the team right now as you get ready for this big game? Trying to put them away today?
RON WASHINGTON: Very relaxed. Confidence. In a few minutes we could go out there and get to work. And that's the attitude to have. Just come in preparing, getting ready for the game. So we are confident and relaxed.

Q. I know there were a lot of good things going on here last year. What were some of the biggest question marks you had about this team going into Spring Training? What were the things that had to go right to get to this point right now?
RON WASHINGTON: We certainly had to, No. 1, pitch better, which is always the priority. And we had to elevate our defense, which is another priority. And we had to use our athletic ability by being able to run the bases much better. And those three things, I think, came together. The last of it to come together was the base running. Early in the year we were making a lot of mistakes on the base paths, but we stayed the course and they are beginning to figure it out and things came together. We always had the ability to swing the bats. But those three things right there are the things that we wanted to make sure that we tightened down on and we did. I mean, our pitching was outstanding. They are the reasons we are where we are. Our defense stepped it up. And we got under control on the base paths.

Q. Wash, what was the turning point, as far as improving on the base paths? And how big a factor was Gary Pettis in that?
RON WASHINGTON: Gary was the biggest factor of trying to settle these guys down, trying to make them understand when and when not to try something. There was a period there that we shut them down, we started making the calls when we wanted them to run the base paths. And through that process, they began to wonder themselves what it was like to run the base paths properly. And then we turned them loose again and they begin to show improvement that was expressed to them by Gary. But he's a tremendous defensive guy, and he's a tremendous base-running guy. And my team out there is very fortunate to have him as their leader.

Q. Wash, you have a lot of guys on this team can go just go about their work as they play baseball, as you say. The Nelson Cruz seems to be a guy that seems to epitomize that more than anything. Speak of him and how he fits in with the dynamic with Josh and Vlad?
RON WASHINGTON: Nelson matured in the last couple of years. I think last year he proved to himself more than anything else in the game of baseball that he knows what he's doing. He came in this year more relaxed. And fitting in that lineup between Vlad and Kins has made a big difference. It made it tougher on a pitcher to get through our lineup, especially if Michael and Elvis is getting on the base paths. He has the ability to beat you in many ways. He can beat you with his speed, he can definitely beat you with the long ball. He is not afraid to use the opposite field. And he has gotten much better this year hitting off-speed stuff, which has accelerated his game even more. He was a diamond that was rough and now he is starting to shine.

Q. Ron, your team gets a lot of contributions from some young players. Many of them came through your system, but a lot of them were acquired either in signings or in trades. Can you speak to the significance of moves like those that put good guys into the system that you can use?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, I think we always have been praising our minor league system, development people, the scouts. And the past three years, we all finally got on the same page of what we're trying to do, the type of people we want to bring into the organization, the type of talent we want to bring into the organization. And the majority of those guys are character guys. The organization, I think as a whole, has changed to the point where we're doing more teaching, we're more hands-on. And our scouts and Jon Daniels and everything, going out looking at players and brought players in and put them in our hands. An organization as a whole has done a good job. And he think that's the difference in the game of baseball today than in the past. There's more teaching going on; even at the Major League level you have to continue to teach. And in my opinion, our best teachers are right here.
So if you're talented and you can play the game of baseball, and you come up to the Major League level, we have unselfish coaches that will get out there and whatever time it takes to get you to be able to perform at the Major League level, they are willing to do it. And I think that's the turn around that this organization has made.

Q. You talked earlier about pitching being in question. When you were putting together the team over the off-season, what was the best you could have expected from C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis? And how much of a question were they coming into the year?
RON WASHINGTON: It was an unknown. We didn't know. We knew that C.J. had tremendous stuff. The question was, could he handle 32 starts? 33 starts? Will he break down? But the way C.J. thinks about C.J. was the most important part of it, because he was not going to be denied. And more than anything else, all we gave him was an opportunity. He took advantage of that opportunity. The same thing in Colby Lewis' case. All we did with Colby is give him an opportunity, and he took advantage of that opportunity. Now, the opportunities that we have given to them, I think both Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins played a big part in it by being able to keep them focused. And I always like to say about good coaching is they're mechanics on duty, and that's the attitude we had around here. There wasn't anything that they could do that was wrong, as long as they were healthy, that we didn't have the people here to help them get through it. And each and every one of my coaches I consider mechanics, and we try to relax our players in that type of situation where you don't concern yourself with what is going wrong with your game, all you do is concern yourself with going out there and try to be productive. And whatever's wrong, we've got people here to fix it.
But the advancement that they have made, I think they deserve the credit for, No. 1, staying healthy. And for No. 2, listening.

Q. Ron, where were your philosophies about the game formed? And when did you start to think that managing is something that you could do?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, my philosophy was formed when I first signed out of high school. I attended the Kansas City Royals' baseball academy, and that academy was all about one thing, the game of baseball fundamentally. And I ended up being around a lot of people that thought the same thing - Billy Gardner, Tom Kelly. Those are the kind of guys that really influenced me. Steve Boros in the Minor Leagues, Branch Rickey, Jr., Syd Thrift, Buzzy Keller, these are the guys. And I happened to be in organizations like the Dodgers and the Kansas City Royals that believed in fundamentals and have stuck with them. And, you know, they always have preached play the game the way it's presented and you don't get too far outside of what have to be done. As far as managing goes, all I ever wanted to be in this game was an infield instructor and a third base coach. I had some good times in Oakland, and the media in Oakland decided that maybe this guy is able to manage. And they began to put that out, some people gave me an opportunity for some interviews, and my take on that was it would have to take a general manager to convince an owner that I'm the guy to lead them. And Jon Daniels was that guy.
So I really had reached the pinnacle of what I wanted to do. That to be a third base coach, be the best I could, and be an infield coach, be the best coach and I reached those. So that's where my dream was.

Q. Ron, if I had told you back in Spring Training would you be surprised that at the end of this season neither Rich Harden or Scott Feldman would be in your rotation and how little you would be able to get from your top two starting pitchers going into the year, could you have imagined yourself sitting here today?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I couldn't really couldn't. But that goes to speak to the Texas Rangers organization and the turnaround that they've made in the few years. Now, to be a Texas Ranger you have to be able to perform or you have to get out of the way.
THE MODERATOR: We'll let you go on that note, thank you.

End of FastScripts

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