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October 18, 2010

Ron Washington


Q. What do you think the most important aspect of being a manager is? Is it in-game decision making? Is it motivating your players? What, for you, is the key to doing the job well?
RON WASHINGTON: Making my players believe in the fact that they can go out there and play baseball. Understanding that whatever the game is asking to do, just play to it. You know, I'm saying it. I know it's not easy, but those are the things I try to do because the game can humble you quick. It's not perfection. There's a lot of things that go wrong. But the tough guys are the ones that overcome things, and that's the one message I've always sent, and as a manager, that's what I try to do.

Q. Is there a difference between regular-season baseball and post-season baseball, the way it's played, strategy, intensity, anything?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think it's all-or-nothing, no doubt about it. In the back of your mind, you try to keep it there; that if you lose, you're going home.
But the way to combat that is I think you have to stay in the moment. You have to be aware of what the game might ask you to do, and if you're aware of what the game is asking you to do and you can play to that, I think you don't think about it.
But it is different in a regular season, because in a regular season, you always can say, there's tomorrow. You know there's no tomorrow. So you leave everything you have out there today, with an awareness. So that's the big difference for me. But it's no different than what I've grown up to do all my life, is play baseball.
There's nothing that can happen out there that haven't happened before. It's just magnified a little more. And if it doesn't work, it could be the end. But those are things that will happen, but those are things that I don't think you should even be concerning yourself with. If that happened, be surprised.

Q. With two guys, with Francoeur, what impact do you think he's made on your ballclub and how has he impressed you, and Hunter having the good start after the injury, why has he been so effective?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, with Francoeur, we needed a right-handed bat that will be a threat against a left-hander and he's brought that to us, and not only that, he's brought a professionalism, he's brought a looseness in our clubhouse. He's brought an attitude. He's been a great teammate.
And those are the type of things that if you bring a guy in, that you look for, and he was all of that. I think our scouting department did a great job of identifying him as the one guy that we could acquire and help us.
Tommy Hunter, you know, he's not a power guy. He's a loose guy. Doesn't much affect him. He has belief in his ability and he goes out there and he just tries to pitch his game. I think my pitching coach and my bullpen coach do a good job of putting a game plan together, and as young as he is, he's done a great job of following that game plan.
And not only that, he showed some maturity during the period of time that maybe he had to adjust from the game plan, and I think that's the reason why we believe in him as our guy that will throw tomorrow.

Q. Can you walk us through the Moreland decision, and just do you anticipate this being a little more permanent?
RON WASHINGTON: I'm going day to day. Today I chose Moreland. Simply because the at-bats he's been giving me, how he's been hanging in there. Doesn't matter to him if it's left or right. And the name of the game is to put runs up on the board, and he's the guy that's producing runs and that's why I went with Moreland.

Q. What kind of impact have you seen Cliff have on the rest of your rotation, especially in the post-season? Have you seen the younger guys learn things from him and apply them to your own game? Are they able to do that at all?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, pace. We certainly talked about pace, and if you watch Cliff Lee, his pace is rapid. Not everyone can sprint like Cliff Lee but it's certainly something that keeps the defense on their toes and I think our guys are beginning to pound the strike zone with a little more consistency than we have in the past.
When he arrived and the first time they seen him throw, I think we all took that from him; that you don't have to be an overpowering guy. If you can command the baseball, you can work fast; the defense plays better, you get your defense on and off the field. And then they can concentrate on what this game is really about, scoring runs.
So that's what he's brought, and it was heaven sent for the Texas Rangers, because we got to the point where we changed our attitude as far as pitching the baseball and catching the baseball, and they work hand-in-hand. And a guy like Cliff Lee certainly helped our other pitchers to understand what we have been preaching for quite a while.

Q. How do you and your team find the line between playing aggressively and not being too over-aggressive?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, we experienced over-aggressive early in the year. And we had to pull the reigns back, and they have gotten smarter for it.
You know, we looking for opportunity. We still may go out there and do some crazy stuff on the offensive side of it on the base paths, but we have the personnel to do that. I've always grown up in this game; once one inning starts, you try to go out there and you try to force the action, but it's something that's developed as the year progressed.
And now, we are very confident in our ability to get on the base paths and make proper decisions. But in the game of baseball, if you are going to talk aggressiveness, there will be mistakes. If you're going to talk tentative, you'd better have some guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark and hit your three-run bombs. We have some guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but that's not our game. Our game is whatever the day presents. If that means we have to run the bases to do something, we are going to do it. If that means we have to bunt to do something, we are going to do it. Hit and run, move runners, take the extra base on balls in the dirt, we are just trying to make them aware of everything that the game can offer, and we show up every day with that attitude.

Q. When you have a game of this magnitude and you get to send Cliff Lee out there, not that you would not be confident in any of your other starters, but is that a particular kind of reassurance for a manager?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, you are very reassured that you have a guy like Cliff Lee, but as I said, it's tough to predict the game of baseball. You can have the very best out there and things don't go your way. You can always do things right in this game, and you still get bad results.
So the fact is, it has to be played between the lines. We don't have any comfort until we get that 27th out and we have a lead. But you know, we feel good that we have a guy out there that knows how to take it home, a guy out there that's never let himself get exposed because things may be going in another direction.
You know, and I think the Yankees got a guy like that in Pettitte tonight. You're never comfortable. We're very happy that there's a guy like Cliff Lee going for us, but until you can get that 27th out, you're never comfortable.

Q. Guerrero and Hamilton have both made important plays for you but they have not been big-time run producers so far; can this team advance without them playing like the 100 RBI guys that they are, or do they have to eventually hit more?
RON WASHINGTON: Eventually I want them to hit more. But we are a group of 25 guys. When someone is down, we have always had each other's back. And as long as we have to keep it together, until we can get Hamilton and Guerrero loose, we are going to keep it together.
We don't care who the hero is, as long as someone gets it done, and we have a lineup that -- we have got other guys in that lineup that can get it done. We don't expect that Hamilton and Guerrero will be as flat as they are as many games as there's left to play hopefully. But if it ends up like that, we feel good about the rest of the guys in that lineup, and that's why we are a group.
We know those are the guys that do the big producing, there's no doubt about it. But if they are not, that doesn't mean we have to lose, and that's our mindset.

Q. Given Feliz' health, he was a little up-and-down in his first two appearances, how important was it to give him a good outing on Saturday and get him settled down for the rest of the series?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's been important because it's been a long time in between since he pitched. He's still a young kid. He's just a pup.
Sometimes, you know, when you're that young, and you're on the stage that we are on, it's sometimes hard to control that adrenaline. That's the one thing we have to get him. Hopefully we can get him some more consistent work.
But if the opportunity presents that we haven't been able to use him, when the time comes we have to use him. We haven't been able to use him. We're going to send him out there and whatever we have to do to go out and calm him down, we'll do it.
But he's gaining experience, and the only way you can get it is you have to go through it. There isn't any words that we can say and there isn't anything that we can do. Once he takes that baseball it's in his hand. He certainly has the ability with that right arm of his to do some good things, and he's going to have to figure it out.
And I think in this game, we all are teachers; our pupils, we want them to become self-sufficient, and before it's all over he's going to get to the point where he's going to be self-sufficient and when things aren't going right, he's going to be able to correct himself.

Q. After the disappointment you guys experienced Friday, the brilliant way they responded on Saturday, how much credit does a manager get for that?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, I'd like to think that they have taken on my demeanor in a sense, but it's the players that get it done. My job is to make sure that they stay calm and understand that they can play baseball. And the only thing we can do about yesterday is learn what went wrong and try to correct it. But there's new circumstances for today, and if we are too concerned about what happened yesterday, we are going to miss opportunities that are being presented to us today.
I'm just the leader. I don't play. But I'm just a leader. And I just try to instill into my players my belief about the game of baseball, and so far, they followed my lead, but as far as credit goes, it goes to my coaching staff, getting them prepared, and it goes to my players for believing in the preparation and going out there and doing the execution when I, as the manager, put something on for them to execute.
So I'm just an extension of them. I think as far as credit goes, I'll take it if somebody gives it to me, but I don't give it to myself.

Q. Talking about Hunter, you've mentioned before that he showed maturity during the period of time that your coaches were trying to get him to adjust to the game plan. Could you elaborate on that a little bit of what your coaches were trying to do and how willing he was to go along with it?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I'm not going to be specific, because I don't want the Yankees to know what we are doing. But you know, they get together every day with the catchers, and they decide how we are going to attack. But the only way that can be executed, if the guy that has the ball on that rubber believes in it.
Tommy believes in everything we are trying to do wholeheartedly. He goes out there and he and the catcher work it and they execute it.
I don't know if I can explain it the way you might want to hear it, because to talk about our game plan is to be giving away secrets, and I'm not doing that.

Q. With all of the obvious differences in age and experience and all that stuff, how do you compare yourself now to when you managed in the Minor Leagues? How much better are you? How much different are you?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, when I got the job here in Texas, I was a novice. It was obvious I wasn't a manager, but I was a solid baseball man. I've been around a lot of good managers. I'm a sponge as far as the game of baseball goes. I'm surrounded by a lot of experience. I use that experience.
I was a coach, so I know who does the grunt work. I don't think I'm any different than anyone else, but just like a player, the longer they play, the better they get. I'm a manager. The longer I manage, the better I'll get. If I'm able to be in this business of managing for the next eight years, I'll be as good as any manager that's been in the game for that long. The more you're around, the more you learn. But more than anything else, I have to learn my players. And when you learn your players, as a manager, there's a lot of things you can do that turns out right.
I'm only an extension of what they do. But I am better. I am smarter. The one thing that I learned more than anything else, I learned a lot about the pitching. You know, before, as far as running the ballgame, putting on steals and hit and runs, oh, I can do that. But what I had to learn more than anything else is how to maneuver the pitching staff. And I think my pitching coach, Mike Maddux, and Hawk, has done a good job of growing me up as a manager when it comes to pitching.
The rest of the game, I know. I've been around a long time. But that was the part that was the most difficult, and I think I got that down. I don't totally have it, because when you think you totally have it in this game of baseball, it will slap you. I'm always open. I'm always open for suggestions. I don't think I'm the smartest guy in the world, but I do know baseball. So I am better.

Q. You talked about confidence and about the group work of the guys in the locker room, how important are veteran guys like Vlad, Josh? How much have they helped with their presence as veteran guys on the team? How much help have they provided to some of the other guys in the locker room just to get them mentally prepared for such a stage, because most of them have never been to this stage before the competition?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's quite important. There's no substitute for experience, there's no doubt about it. And guys like Vlad Guerrero have been in it before. And what he does, what he brings, is what situation presents itself in a ballgame, when we are having a tough time, when he has that opportunity at the plate, he delivers and it relaxes everyone else.
We have played some tough ballgames throughout the season. They were not playoff ballgames, but they certainly felt like it. The one thing that I think we have got in that clubhouse that I'm so proud of is they believe that they can play baseball, and all that means to those guys is, whatever happens in a ballgame, we can do it. We can execute. We can react to it.
And I think guys like that keep us in that frame of mind. We have always -- here in Texas, anyway, we have always given opportunity to young players since I've been here. And those are the kind of guys that help them to relax, because when I came up as a youngster, it was those guys that helped me to relax. And that's all you can do. But once they get between them lines, all they have is themselves and belief. And I've always talked to those guys about belief. It's a powerful thing. Extraordinary things can happen when you believe.
But you can have all of the people in the world believing in you. If you don't believe in yourself, it don't really matter. So we work hard at getting those guys to believe, and the only way they have believe is going out there and getting results, and they have gotten results.
Now, the youth part of it is behind us. We can't use that anymore.

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