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October 20, 2010
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Game Five
Q. Your club is 5-0 in the post-season on the road. Is there a reason behind that that allows you to be that successful?
RON WASHINGTON: No. I just think it's the post-season. It's the playoffs, and every game is important and you're trying to win. Nope, I really don't have a reason for it other than the fact that we are just playing good baseball. Just happen to be on the road.
Q. Can you just talk about the M.O. of this team all season has been, don't look back, don't look ahead, and keeping that even-keel. The guys in the clubhouse say that starts with you. I guess just how you have over the course of the regular season, and taking it into it the post-season, gotten them to buy into taking that approach every day at the ballpark.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I have to go way back, because that's the approach I took as a player. That's the approach I took as a coach. That's the approach I took as a third base coach, infield coach, and now I'm the manager.
You know, I keep saying in my baseball life, that's the attitude I've always had and that's the attitude I portray around my players. And it's always been a winning attitude. Even if you lose, it's still a winning attitude; the way you carry yourself, the way you act, the way you respect. All of that type of stuff.
That's how I get them to buy in, because when they look at me, I'm the same every day. I figure I can make a difference every day by the way I go about my business. So that's the way they go about their business, and right now, we are making a difference.
Q. Given Elvis's age, how would you describe his aptitude and his maturity?
RON WASHINGTON: His aptitude is off the chart. His maturity is off the chart. You know, I always say about Elvis, he was taught very well in Atlanta where he started and in Venezuela where he played winter ball and the people that he's around.
He can apply; you give him information, he applies it. For a 22-year-old, he's so aware of everything, and he fears nobody. And that's qualities that it's hard to find in players, and I think the Texas Rangers got lucky when they got him from the Atlanta Braves, because he has all of those qualities.
Q. When Joe was in here earlier, he was saying it was an elimination game for them and how he has to change what he does; it's not an elimination game for you. Do you change anything from what you've done in the first four games?
RON WASHINGTON: No. All I want us to continue to do is go out there and react to the game. I just keep saying, you react to the game. No one can predict what the day is going to be. No one can predict what's going to happen. You can only wish it happens a certain way, but the game is played between the lines, and I want my guys to go out there and just react to what's happening between the lines.
And if we do that, and we are able to take advantage of some opportunities, what needs to be done will get done. But going out there concerning ourselves with it, just going to go play baseball.
Q. Last night Nelly Cruz took second base on the fly ball. Elvis made the play at third base with the bases loaded. Since you've been here, you talked about the importance of defense and aggressive baserunning. For those two plays, that made you especially proud last night?
RON WASHINGTON: Oh, no doubt about it. You know, for four or five innings, it was a tough ballgame. They were putting pressure on us from the time the game started. And then an opportunity opened up. Deep fly ball to center field, Cruzzy took a chance of going into second base. That same chance we took against Tampa Bay, we got blown up, but my guys never stopped. That's our game. That's the way we play and that's the way I want them to play. I have the type of athletes who will do that, so I take the reigns off and let them go.
Sometimes the judgments hurt us, but most of the time the judgments help. I've come up in baseball in a period where fundamentals were key, doing the right thing: Catching the baseball, throwing the baseball. Offense comes and goes. That is determined by the pitcher on the mound. If he's good that day, there won't be no offense. But that don't mean you can't catch the ball and that don't mean you can't pitch the ball and win other ways.
So that's the one thing I'm trying to bring to Texas, and I think we've finally got it. It took us all year to develop it, but we finally got it and we got it right now at the right time. I don't know what's going to happen between now and tomorrow. But, one thing I can say, we're going to go play some baseball. See what happens.
Q. You just kind of led to this, but has the team raised its level of play with the aggressiveness with the wins against Tampa Bay and this series? Was it a building? It's a fine line I'm asking about.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't think when you get to this point you can raise your level of play. They have played almost 162,170 ballgames. What you raise is your focus. That's what you raise.
You lock in a little more. You pay attention to -- you talk about details, dotting the I's and crossing the T's, you see what you can take advantage of, that's what's raised. If your game is not right now, it's not going to be right. So it's the focus.
I think my team has bought into the focus part of it. They are focused.
Q. You have been with Josh pretty much through his entire comeback year with the Rangers. How much have you seen him go through from the start of it to this point, and then how would you describe that journey that he's gone on from being out of the game to being now on the edge of maybe a first World Series?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I look at it in baseball terms. He's matured in baseball terms.
He's learned that the talent that he is, doesn't always have to be result-oriented. It just have to be between the lines where his teammates know he's there, his presence. And he's too talented not to do something. Some pitcher will step on that mound and throw something in the wrong spot. I don't care how much a pitcher will try not to, he will throw it in the wrong spot. And at some point, Josh is going to catch it.
So, he's matured. He's understanding his body. He's understanding the grind of a Major League season. Sometimes you have to play hurt. Sometimes you have to play when you don't feel right.
But he's a five-tool guy; so you don't hit today, go hit defense. So you don't hit today, you put one in play, be the back end of a double play. Go first and third, steal a bag. Put some pressure on the defense. Those are the things about the game he's learning. It's not always about the results.
Q. As a person, though, how would you describe that journey from where he was to where he is now?
RON WASHINGTON: I think the journey is still going. I don't think in Josh's case that it ever ends, because you never know from day to day how he's going to feel.
But I think as each day comes and goes, and he makes it through, he gets stronger. And I think if you talk to Josh, he'll tell you, it's still day to day. And in his life, I think it will always be day to day. But here, he has great support. Everybody in Texas loves him. He knows no matter how good he's doing or how bad he's doing, he's got support. I don't think anybody can ask for more than that; and that's in life, period.
Q. I was also going to ask you about Josh. Aside from all of the stuff off the field that he's been through, there was a lot of scrutiny on him just coming off the injury, he struggled in the Tampa Bay series and didn't look like himself at the plate and you talked about he just needed some reps to see some live pitching. Can you talk about his ability to rise to the occasion in this series and on this stage here in New York?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, the rising started the first day he returned back to my lineup back in Texas. That's when the rising started. Just seeing pitchers, just competing, just getting out there and getting the juices flowing. Just feeling bad about the fact that maybe he's not doing what he thinks he's capable of doing. That's what competitors do. They figure out a way to get it done.
The timing was right. He got the at-bats to end the rest of the season, he got the at-bats at Tampa Bay and his teammates picked him up through that series and that's what teammates do, pick each other up. His teammates picked him up, and gave him a chance to not get too mentally tight about what he's capable of doing and wasn't out there doing. Gave him a chance to relax from what he was reading in the media or what the media was telling him, because his teammates was picking him up.
And he's gotten to the point now where his rhythm is back, and he's feeling good about himself. And that's where he is right now. That's the journey.
End of FastScripts