Washington: 'Want to get our swagger'

Updated: March 26, 2010, 2:28 PM ET
By Jim Reeves | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington met specifically with his hitters Friday morning to stress the importance of getting into regular-season mode during the final 10 days of camp.

"We made sure that we do not forget what our purpose is and in these next 10 days here, we want to get our swagger and get to moving forward," Washington said. "We want to start doing the things we need to do to be successful."

At the same time, Washington noted that it's not just the hitters who are responsible for his team's Cactus League worst 6-14 record going into Friday's game against Oakland at Surprise Stadium.

"It's important that for the rest of the time we're down here, our pitching staff start keeping us in ballgames," Washington said. "The past 10 days, we've been giving up too many runs. We've been getting behind early and we've got to get that straightened out and get into season mode in all phases of the game."

Getting something positive out of Rich Harden, who pitched with Oakland at the same time Washington was an assistant coach with the A's, would be a huge step in the right direction.

"What I see in Rich Harden is what I saw in Oakland. In spring training, he got his (butt) kicked," Washington said. "Concerned? No, I'm not concerned, but I would like to see him step up and give us something to hold onto.

"Rich has always been the kind of guy who uses spring training to get himself ready. He never pays attention to (the numbers). He tries to correct the things he feels he needs to correct and by the time the bell rings, he's ready to go."

That said, Washington and the Rangers will feel a lot better about things if Harden looks like the ace they believed him to be when they signed him this winter.

"I would certainly like to see him come out today and put something on our minds real good," Washington said. "It's not about velocity, it's about where you put those pitches. You don't have to throw hard to be successful; you have to put those pitches in the right spot."

Harden, who has a 11.25 spring ERA heading into Friday's start, has struggled with his bread-and-butter changeup this spring.

"Breaking balls and stuff like that down here, sometime it's hard to get a grasp on that with the dryness," Washington said. "I'm not using that as an excuse but I've seen Rich Harden have a very bad spring and come out and have a very good season. I'm just living on his track record. It would be awesome to see him get through his innings today and, for his sake, just leave the mound with some positives."

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