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Tag:Ron Washington
Posted on: July 12, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:17 pm
 

AL skip Washington's speech highly anticipated

PHOENIX -- Texas manager Ron Washington is extremely excited to guide his first All-Star team and, as Rangers designated hitter Michael Young says, he should be.

Washington waited many, many years before getting his first managerial opportunity. And then, in his fourth season guiding Texas, he led the Rangers to their first-ever World Series. This after he tested positive for cocaine during his third season and survived.

Yes, Washington is a survivor, an underdog, however you want to put it. He is beloved by his players -- just as he was by players in Oakland during his 11 seasons as an Athletics coach. Part of it is his baseball knowledge. Part of it is his humanity -- his compassion, his understanding, his ability to relate to people. And part of it is his directness, which comes peppered in his own unique, colorful language.

Which is why one of tonight's All-Star Game highlights figures to occur in the privacy of the American League clubhouse, away from the public eye.

"His pre-game speech is going to be a classic," Rangers designated hitter Michael Young says. "I'm going to have to record it. I'm going to make sure I have a front-row seat.

"It might be the first All-Star speech where f--- is said about 30 times."

Young's point is well taken, though his accuracy is ripe to be questioned.

Let's remember, the Dodgers' Tommy Lasorda managed the NL club five times.

Meantime, Washington's response? Don't hold your breath.

"It's not going to happen," he said, chuckling, in the AL clubhouse Tuesday just before batting practice. "I gave it to them yesterday. Today is the fake stuff."

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Sunday pitcher rule needs revisiting

PHOENIX -- You know what would really throw some gusto into this All-Star Game?

If Detroit's Justin Verlander were opposing Philadelphia's Roy Halladay on the mound, that's what.

Except, as you may have heard, because of a new rule instituted last year, starting pitchers who work on Sunday are ineligible to play in the All-Star Game.

So Verlander is here, watching the game just like you. Only difference is, Verlander gets to dress in uniform and hang out in the clubhouse.

It is a well-intentioned rule, and the spirit in which it was instituted is right (and no disrespect to the Angels' Jered Weaver, who will start for the AL and is pretty darned good himself). But it needs to be revisited.

In most cases, a pitcher throws in the bullpen two days after a start.

So there is no reason why, say, Verlander, can't contribute one inning in Tuesday's game (in what effect would be akin to a post-start bullpen session).

NL (and Giants) manager Bruce Bochy disagrees.

"I think it's a good rule," Bochy says. "I was caught in this back in '99 where a couple of pitchers pitched on Sunday, and I was actually told that they would be available for an inning. Then once they got there, [I was told] they would prefer them not to pitch, so it puts the manager in a tough spot.

"I think that takes care of that. If he throws on Sunday, he can't pitch. And that way you don't come out short-handed. We need to have all 13 pitchers available."

There you have it, same as designating a closer and refusing to change: It allows a manager to cover his rear end and shut down all critics with an easy answer along the lines of, "That's the way it is, I didn't have a choice."

No question, managers are put in tough positions at the All-Star Game, especially in regard to pitching.

A manager's first responsibility is to return pitchers healthy to their respective teams. You can't blame clubs for getting jumpy about it. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly planned to ask Bochy to only use Clayton Kershaw for one inning Tuesday night because the Dodgers have slotted Kershaw to start their second-half opener Friday in Arizona.

Still. They can't contribute one inning on Tuesday?

AL (and Rangers) manager Ron Washington said "I'm all good with it."

The Sunday rule -- and other All-Star issues -- is being discussed by players and owners as they work toward reaching a new Basic Agreement (the current one expires after this season), according to sources.

It's too early to say whether there will be a change for 2012. But certainly, the trend has been to protect players more, not less.

Verlander, who beat Kansas City on Sunday, is enjoying the scene here and said Monday he understands why the rule was put into place -- and supports it.

"I think it's probably a smart rule," he said.

Yeah, but if his Tigers advance to the World Series this year ... but have to open on the road because the NL won the All-Star Game when Verlander couldn't pitch?

Wouldn't he be angry then?

"I probably would be, in that case," he said, grinning.

 

Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Webb still a ways off for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching to sleepy-eyed minor-league hitters in front of a manager and pitching coach early on a March morning is vastly different than throwing in front of 45,000 in late October.

But late October is where both the Texas Rangers and Brandon Webb hope to be working later this year, so Wednesday's slow-out-of-the-gates session for the right-hander counted as the first step toward, well, who-knows-what.

The 2006 NL Cy Young winner hasn't pitched since opening day 2009, and he looked every bit of that while throwing for the first time this spring to live hitters.

The Rangers hope he can become healthy and strong enough to help them later in the summer. Based on his 62-pitch test-drive session Wednesday, it's not going to be sooner.

"I'm not dreaming," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm more focused on the ones who are healthy and around right now.

"When he becomes available, then I can dream."

It's still awfully fuzzy as to when that might be. Webb threw several sinkers -- his chief weapon -- as well as changeups and fastballs.

"His sink was there, it just wasn't heavy," said Washington, who noted that he threw some good breaking balls and changeups and some not-so-good breaking balls and changeups.

"I don't know if he can be the same guy" that he was before, Washington said. "But what he does have is pedigree. He knows how to get outs. A good pitcher knows how to get outs. That's important to me."

The Rangers signed Webb to a one-year deal that guarantees him $3 million and could earn him as much as $8 million with incentives in early January after ace Cliff Lee spurned them for the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Of course we need him," Washington said. "But as far as counting on him, he'll let us know."

The next step, the manager said, would be for Webb to pitch another round of live batting practice. But Webb remains so far behind that the Rangers will wait to schedule that until they see how his shoulder responds over the next couple of days to Wednesday's effort.

 

Posted on: November 1, 2010 2:24 am
Edited on: November 1, 2010 2:27 am
 

Giants own firm grip on Series with 3-1 lead

ARLINGTON, Texas -- How good a position are the Giants in following their 4-0 whitewashing of the Rangers in Game 4 here Halloween night?

Teams that have taken a 3-1 series lead are 38-6 in World Series play.

And of those six teams that came back to win ... well, nobody's done it since the 1985 Kansas City Royals.

"We're one game away," Giants outfielder and postseason hero Cody Ross said. "We can all feel it. We can smell it, taste it, everything ... all the senses.

"We just have to keep grinding."

That, or keep pitching. With Tim Lincecum lined up to start Game 5, the Giants already have shut the Rangers out in two of these four games so far. Texas thus becomes the first team since the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers to get shut out in at least two games during one single World Series.

A strong Orioles staff featuring Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Wally Bunker pitched three shutouts against the Dodgers that fall.

A Rangers' lineup that led the American League in batting average and ranked fourth in both runs scored and on-base percentage has been completely overwhelmed.

"It's certainly pitching as advertised," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Co. "Those guys pound the strike zone. They've got good stuff. They've got velocity. They can spin the baseball, they can change speeds and they keep their defense engaged. And that's what you like to see out of pitching, keeping the defense engaged.

"They've done a great job. We've got to figure out some ways to put some runs on the board against them."

With Cliff Lee slated to start Game 5 on Monday, C.J. Wilson Game 6 on Wednesday and Colby Lewis Game 7 on Thursday, the Rangers have the starters they want going. But if they can't score, it's not going to do much good.

Likes: San Francisco closer Brian Wilson's "Aqua Man" T-shirt he was wearing Sunday. ... Hank Aaron in the house to present the Hank Aaron award to Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Toronto's Jose Bautista. Great to see Aaron still connected. ... Cooper's Old Time Pit Barbecue in Fort Worth. Biggest pork chops I've ever seen (thus the "Home of the Big Chop" monikor). And outstanding beef brisket. ... Lyle Lovett. ... Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central opening the Michigan state football playoffs with a 62-14 cruise over Dundee on Friday night.

Dislikes: Missing Halloween. ... The three minutes between innings of postseason games. Yes, baseball needs to make its money, but, yaawwwwn, man does that make these games stretch out.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So many dragons lurking out in the fog
"So many crazy people mumblin' monologues
"It's not the tales of Stephen King that I've read
"I need protection from the things in my head
"Like...
"Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
"These are the things that terrify me the most
"No alien, psychopath or MTV host
"Scares me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost

Posted on: October 29, 2010 5:54 pm
 

Lee on short rest? Feliz sighting? Texas regroups

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Are the Rangers in deep enough trouble that they would dare consider asking ace Cliff Lee to do something he's never done, come back on short rest for Game 4?

It might all hinge on Game 3, a game manager Ron Washington called "must-win" as the Rangers worked out Friday afternoon preparing for it.

"You certainly don't want to go down 3-0," Washington said.

Colby Lewis will start Game 3 for the Rangers on Saturday, with young right-hander Tommy Hunter the scheduled Game 4 starter. Lee, as things stand now, is to start Game 5.

Asked Friday whether he's thought of using Lee on three days' rest, Washington responded, "The only thing I'm thinking about is Colby tomorrow. I can't answer that."

That open-ended answer will send hordes of people into a raging debate, of course.

But don't expect Lee to go in Game 4.

If he does, it will rank as the biggest shocker of this series.

The Rangers had a chance to use Lee on short rest in the Division Series against Tampa Bay in Game 4. But leading the series two games to one at that point, Washington opted against the idea. The Rangers lost, then went back to Florida to beat Tampa Bay in Game 5.

Last October, the Phillies didn't ask Lee to go on short rest in the World Series, either. Lee has never pitched on short rest.

The key here is this: Whether or not the Rangers would consider moving Lee up to start Game 4, they still need to win Game 5.

Meantime, Washington answered another pitching question that completely has taken on a life of its own in the aftermath of Texas' horrendous bullpen Game 2 meltdown:

Why did closer Neftali Feliz remain sitting on the bench as the meltdown progressed in the eighth inning? Especially with a fresh arm, as he has yet to pitch in the World Series?

Washington reiterated a day later that he did not even consider the option.

"No, I didn't, because if I would have went to Feliz right there, he would have had to do something he's never done before," Washington said. "And I wasn't going to challenge him like that.

"Nope, we had other guys down there that I have a lot of confidence in getting us out of that inning. It just didn’t happen."

Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 4:54 pm
 

Thoughts on Game 5, Rangers-Rays

There is nothing like a Game 5 (or Game 7) in sports, and nothing like the pitch-by-pitch tension that builds in an elimination baseball game with the October leaves changing and Halloween costumes in the stores.

Tonight's Rangers-Rays game is so big, Tampa Bay not only removed the Tropicana Field tarp and put 5,000 extra tickets on sale, the Rays sold 'em!

Seriously, some thoughts as we count down to first pitch tonight of what should be a priceless matchup (so to speak) between aces David Price and Cliff Lee.

-- Texas can say what it wants about having Lee on the mound, and there is no question he's The Man. But it would be more of a guarantee if Tampa Bay was pitching some slob not named Price. Unless you're wearing a Rangers uniform, you'd much rather be in the Rays' cleats tonight: Price on the mound, bats coming back to life, the momentum of winning the past two games in your back pocket and what will be a thunderous, sold-out crowd behind you.

-- Crazy how things work out, and how perfect is this: Price, the man who sparked a controversy in Tampa by criticizing the Rays' fans via Twitter for not showing up on a potential clinching game in late September, pitching in front of not only a sold-out crowd tonight, but a crowd that voraciously snapped up those extra 5,000 tickets. This is a chance for burned bridges to be rebuilt, a chance for Price, 25 and as good a pitcher as there is in the game, to stand tall now that Tampa fans have put their money where Price's mouth is.

-- Maybe you don't realize this, but here is how rare a Game 5 is: We haven't had one since 2005, when the Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 5-2 in Anaheim to advance to the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox. Not only that, there's been very little drama in the Division Series' since '05, period: Entering this fall, a total of 11 of 20 series since then have been 3-0 sweeps.  Last fall, Game 163 between the Tigers and Twins -- not a Game 5, but an elimination game nonetheless, was by far the most exciting game of the entire postseason. It was all downhill after that.

-- The home team has yet to win in this series. Only once before has a team won the first two games of a best-of-five postseason series on the road and then gone on to lose: the 2001 Oakland A's, who played the New York Yankees. Texas will do everything tonight to make sure that changes, and don't be surprised to see manager Ron Washington call on starter C.J. Wilson if, for some reason, Lee is off.

-- This either works in Tampa Bay's favor -- or in Texas', if you figure odds are that this eventually will change: Never before in major league baseball history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has there been a postseason series in which the road team has won every game in a best-of-five series.

-- In Game 1, Lee threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 27 hitters, and threw 76 strikes out of 104 total pitches. The Rays ranked third in the AL this season with 802 runs scored, but only 13th with in hits -- only Seattle, in the AL, had fewer. That partly explains why the Rays were no-hit twice this summer. And it explains how steep their challenge is tonight: They cannot expect to get extra runners on base via walks. They must be aggressive in swinging at Lee's strikes -- but it's a fine line between being aggressive, and coming too far out of their game.

-- From Texas' perspective, taking an early lead is a must. That would take the Tampa crowd out of the game, it would allow the Rangers to settle in and it might give Lee all he needs. "I think it depends on how many runs is put on the board when you score first," Rangers manager Ron Washington said Sunday in Texas while looking toward Game 5. "If you put one run on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. You put two runs on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. As long as it doesn't get past a grand slam, I think you're in good shape."

-- More Washington: "This was a five-game series when it started, now it's a five-game series. They proved they can beat us on our field, we proved we can beat them on their field. This is what it's about now. They have the right person they feel that's going to be throwing ... and we certainly feel the same way. So it's a matter of going out there, getting Cliff some runs, and if we get him some runs, he'll take it to the finish line. That's what it's all about."

-- Great stuff from Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler on Game 5: "Everyone understands it's just one game now. It's the same game, there's just more cameras. The bases don't eject out of the ground. Guys aren't throwing 150 miles an hour. There's a little more intensity." Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena agreed that there will be no ejecting bases in Tropicana Field tonight, but, as he said, "I can't deny it, it's going to be pretty exciting. It's not as easy to control your emotions. It's fun. It's fun to be a part of it."

-- Tampa Bay's attitude? "We came here facing our elimination," catcher John Jaso said as the Rays dressed after Game 4 to fly home to St. Pete for Game 5. "And we still are facing our elimination." So far, so good with that.

-- The Rangers, for one more day at least, remain the only team in baseball never to have won a playoff series. Someone asked Lee the other day about pitching for a team with such a "sorry history." "I've heard something about that," Lee deadpanned during a post-Game 4 news conference the other day. "But that really doesn't matter to me that much, to be honest. This is a different team than has ever played here. It's a whole different set of circumstances."

Likes: Game 5, for "all the marbles" (as Texas third baseman Michael Young says). ... Bobby Valentine in line to manage again, either in Florida or Seattle. Great fit in either place, but especially the Mariners with their Japanese ownership and Bobby V's ties to Japan. ... Sandy Alderson interviewing with the Mets as a potential general manager. I disagreed with many things Alderson did as president of the Padres, but he would be a great fit with the Mets, who need an adult to run that sorry franchise. Allard Baird, who interviewed Monday, would be a very fine choice as well. ... The Jim Joyce Twitter controversy that erupted on Tuesday. Suddenly, the umpire showed up with a new Twitter account and several tweets that looked authentic -- until MLB-PR tweeted that it was not the real Jim Joyce. ... Baseball working with Stand Up 2 Cancer. ... I don't plug a whole lot of things like this, but if you have a minute to vote in this Pepsi Refresh Project, Gabby's Ladder is a terrific organization for bereaved children in Michigan and Ohio that could really use a helping hand.

Dislikes: Glee.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If the businessmen drink my blood
"Like the kids in art school said they would
"Then I guess I'll just begin again"

-- Arcade Fire, Ready to Start

Posted on: October 9, 2010 10:36 pm
 

Bear Hunting Davis looking for kill in Texas

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- So now AL East champion Tampa Bay hands the ball for its Game 4 start to ... The Bear Hunter?

Yes, meet big right-hander Wade Davis, 6-5 and 220 pounds, who, when he's not pitching for the Rays, lives the kind of life that makes Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon confident when Davis is pitching for the Rays.

Aside from the fact that Davis pitched very well for Tampa Bay toward season's end -- 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA over the last month -- Maddon notes, "He's kind of cold-blooded."

Come again?

"He shot a bear recently in Toronto," Maddon was saying before Game 3. "Came out ... with a bow and arrow and put it down, so I really think he has taken off since that's occurred.

"An off day in Toronto, and the boys went bear hunting. That's a nice off day right there. Wade was the only one who came back with the 300-pound plus black bear.

"If he can stay eye-to-eye with a black bear, I think [Sunday] is not that big of a deal."

That's what the Rays hope, at least.

For the season, Davis was 12-10 with a 4.07 ERA over 29 starts. Whether an Airborne Rangers lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero will cause that hunting feeling, we'll see.

"I hope it is nothing like that. I hope it is really different," Davis says, adding, "That was a heart-pounding moment."

By the way, the Rangers are not throwing a bear hunter in Game 4 -- at least, not that we know of. But right-hander Tommy Hunter, 24, is a pretty darned good pitcher (13-4, 3.73 ERA), especially in The Ballpark in Arlington (7-0, 3.06 in 12 games, 11 starts).

The reason for his success at home?

"I like throwing here," Hunter said. "The fans are great and just the way they play defense behind me has been pretty impressive all year. So, hopefully things don't change."

Likes: Johnny Oates' grandson -- Johnny Oates II -- throwing out the first pitch before Game 3 of the Rays-Rangers here. The late Rangers manager was a terrific man, and it was nice to see the Rangers remember him through his grandson. ... Texas infielder Michael Young in the postseason. ... Really, I'm professionally neutral on this Tampa Bay-Texas series, but it's nice to see some life in the Rays and a series turn interesting. ... Seeing Nancy Mazmanian, who was callously and unconscionably laid off by the Angels last winter after many years as a first-class media relations pro in Anaheim, helping with PR here in Texas for this series. ... The Murray's Steak Sandwich in Minnesota's Target Field. Best ballpark concession I think I've had. And at only $10.50, it's shockingly reasonable. ... Razzoo's Cajun joint in Fort Worth. Excellent seafood gumbo and crawfish etouffee the other night. ... Congratulations to Don Middlebrook, tropical music troubadour extraordinaire in Michigan, on 20 years of music. Check him out here.

Dislikes:
Get well soon, Tony Gwynn. That's tough news, salivary cancer. Here's to a full recovery.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
"Excitable boy, they all said
"And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
"Excitable boy, they all said
"Well, he's just an excitable boy
"He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
"Excitable boy, they all said
"And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
"Excitable boy, they all said
"Well, he's just an excitable boy"

-- Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com