Hart staying beyond current contract

Updated: July 21, 2004, 8:34 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas general manager John Hart will remain in his job for 2005, a year past his current contract.

Hart and owner Tom Hicks didn't decide how long Hart will remain as GM.

"As long as necessary, I think that's probably the safest way to put it," Hart said Wednesday. "I've made it clear to him that I'm going to be here."

The Rangers, built around young talent, went into Wednesday night's game against Anaheim with a 2½-game AL West lead. Hart, 56, was in the final year of his three-year GM contract.

"He's done a good job, and I'm excited," said manager Buck Showalter, hired by Hart after the 2002 season. "Hopefully, we can continue to make strides to get where we want to go."

Before coming to Texas, Hart transformed Cleveland from one of baseball's worst teams into a perennial contender. The Indians, who had not made a postseason appearance since 1954, made the playoffs six of Hart's last seven years and reached the World Series twice.

The Rangers are coming off four straight last-place finishes, the last two under Hart. Before that, they won three AL West titles in four seasons but never a playoff series.

"The interest that we have here is in sustaining long-term success and continue to provide opportunity for our young players," Hart said. "To put something out there that is a sustained contending type club is what the ultimate goal is. We're on the right track."

After meeting with Hart during the All-Star break, Hicks had he didn't expect a decision on the GM position until after the season.

"John agreeing to stay year-to-year is great for the Rangers," Hicks said Wednesday. "It allows us to keep the momentum of the team's success and the major league staff responsible for it together for the next several years."

Hart's decision to stay delays the expected succession of assistant GM and player development director Grady Fuson into the GM role. Fuson, who came from Oakland, also was a GM finalist in 2001.

Fuson got a contract extension earlier this year, through 2005.

"I've been a builder my whole career. I don't have to be a GM to be content," Fuson said Wednesday. "The most important thing at this point is what the club is doing and what can be done to improve the organization."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press