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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Rangers’ Washington repays club’s faith

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, right, rates a hug from a fan through the net behind home plate prior to action against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, October  9, 2010. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
Ron Jenkins
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, right, rates a hug from a fan through the net behind home plate prior to action against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, October 9, 2010. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Baseball isn’t all that Ron Washington knows, though the national pastime has furnished the Texas Rangers’ manager with a steady paycheck for his entire adult life.

He played the game basically year-round when trying to become a big-league player, and when he was trying to stay in the major leagues once he got there.

When no team would pay him to play anymore, he found a spot as a minor-league coach. Then, he became a major-league coach and, for the past four years, a major-league manager.

Washington knows his lot in life is as a baseball lifer, though a mistake more than a year ago almost cost him his job and damaged his image in the game.

But the fallout from a failed drug test, the results of which were leaked during spring training, wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, and it has been an afterthought much of the season.

Washington is making news now for a different reason: He’s the manager of the American League West champions and will take the Rangers into their first AL Championship Series on Friday night.

“”Right now, I’m the leader. I just try to lead,”” Washington said Wednesday, the day after the Rangers beat Tampa Bay in a do-or-die Game 5 of the ALDS.

“”I consider myself a baseball lifer. I try to do things right. I try to tell my players what’s right. I let the game express the things I express to them, because this game of baseball will show you if you’re preaching the right thing.””

He doesn’t hide from his positive test for cocaine in July 2009, after which he offered to resign. Rangers brass considered dismissing him, but thought better of it.

Team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels saw a manager who had improved and a team that had improved with him.

Michael Young, the team’s leader, said it was important to have Washington back.

“”We wanted the right people in place going forward. And that started with Wash,”” Young said. “”As a matter of fact, it starts and ends with Wash. He’s the manager, he makes the important decisions. He’s the guy that has to have the respect in our clubhouse. And he has had it for a long time now. We couldn’t be happier that he is our manager.””

More than a year later, the Rangers are planning to give Washington a contract extension once their postseason run ends. He hasn’t forgotten the support that Ryan and Daniels showed.

“”When you get that type of support, you certainly don’t want to let anyone down, because the problem I had earlier, I had let a lot of people down that loved me,”” said Washington, who has a 331-317 record in four seasons.

“”But those people didn’t back off that love just because of what I did. They didn’t judge me. They just supported me. My players supported me. I just wanted to give them everything I had in the way of knowledge and the way of experience of what I’ve experienced in this game.””

Washington is a candidate to be the AL Manager of the Year, though Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire is considered the front-runner. That’s fine by Washington, who isn’t much of a self-promoter.

But he is confident — in his players and the coaches who surround them. He also knows that he has improved as a manager, but always has room to get better.

So when Friday arrives and the Rangers are facing the New York Yankees in a best-of-seven series that will determine the AL team in the World Series, Washington won’t be looking for the spotlight.

“”I don’t look for that type of praise,”” he said. “”I’m very solid in who I am and what I’m about, and anyone that knows me in the game of baseball knows what Ron Washington is about.

“”I’ve never been one who loved to pat myself on the back. I just go about my business, and I was taught that. I feel good about the people that I learned from and the ideals that I tried to issue out there from those experiences. So, I’m not validating myself in one way or another. I’ll leave that to other people to do.””

While he’s not boasting about the job he has done this year, especially after nearly losing his job a year ago, he can’t say enough about the Rangers’ organization and the players and staff he oversees.

He won’t forget what they’ve done for him.

“”I’m so proud of the organization, and more than anything I’m proud the organization accepted me for who Ron Washington is and they didn’t judge me,”” Washington said. “”They just tried to support me. I’m sitting here humbled. I’m very pleased. I’m so very proud of my team. I really am.””

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