ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ron Washington has always been a popular coach with players, stressing communication and letting them be themselves.
Now he will get his chance as a manager with the Texas Rangers, who wanted and needed somebody with those characteristics.
"I'm going to be a players' manager. My job is solely to make
sure that every player on the Texas Rangers feels like they are
part of everything going on here," Washington said Monday night,
when he was introduced at a news conference. "As a manager, I'm no
good if the players don't get it done. If the players get it done,
When Buck Showalter was fired after an 80-82 season with three
years left on his contract, general manager Jon Daniels said the
Rangers needed a "different perspective."
That's exactly what they get with Washington, a coach for the
Oakland Athletics the past 11 seasons. His two-year contract with
Texas includes two additional option years.
"Keep it simple stupid, that's my motto," he said. "The way
you do that, you make sure you're prepared in the fundamental areas
of baseball and let the talents take over."
Chosen over four other candidates to replace Showalter, the
54-year-old Washington inherits a team that has had only one
winning season since last making the playoffs in 1999. He is the
Rangers' 17th full-time manager and first black manager.
Daniels wanted to hire a winner, an optimist and a communicator.
"Work ethic, professionalism, respect of the game," Daniels
said. "I didn't think we were going to find all of those
characteristics in one person. [Washington] proved me wrong."
Showalter was known for his hands-on approach that led to some
discord in the clubhouse between some players and the manager. He
was 319-329 in four seasons, and the Rangers never finished higher
than third in the AL West under him.
Washington also was a candidate in Oakland to replace fired A's
manager Ken Macha. Washington first interviewed with Texas last
month and met with owner Tom Hicks, Daniels and other Rangers officials
during another interview Sunday.
"Good baseball people, you know when you are around one,"
Washington said. "I just know I'm a good baseball man."
Instead of waiting until late Monday to meet and pick their new
manager, Hicks and Daniels realized after their three-hour session
Sunday with Washington that he was their mutual top choice.
"I kind of grabbed J.D. to the side, this guy is fantastic,"
Washington takes over a team with three-time All-Star shortstop
Michael Young, slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira and 16-game
winner Kevin Millwood. All-Star outfielders Gary Matthews Jr. and
Carlos Lee and 15-game winner Vicente Padilla are among seven
Rangers who have filed for free agency.
Washington played in 564 major league games over parts of 10
seasons for five teams (the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota,
Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston).
But his only managerial experience was two years in Class-A in
the New York Mets organization before his 11 seasons as Oakland's
infield instructor and third-base coach.
"He's been through it as a player, he's been through it as a
coach. He knows how to win," Teixeira said after attending
Washington's news conference. "He said everything that a player
wants to hear. He said everything that an owner and a GM wants to
hear. He's all about winning. He's a baseball guy that wants to
Washington was popular with Oakland players, many of whom wanted
him to be their new manager. He was instrumental in the development
of six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez and making the A's
consistently one of the AL's top fielding teams.
Two years ago, Chavez gave Washington one of his Gold Glove
trophies with the inscription, "Wash, not without you."
"Ron is a good baseball man who has been an integral part of
our success," A's GM Billy Beane said. "We'll miss him, but this
opportunity is very well deserved."
The other finalists for the Texas managerial job were Rangers
bench coach Don Wakamatsu and Japan Series-winning manager Trey
Hillman, an Arlington native and the Rangers' former director of
player development. Both interviewed with Daniels and Hicks last
Wakamatsu has been with the Rangers four seasons and still has a
year left on his contract. Daniels has spoken with him about
remaining on staff, though it might be in a different role.
Washington plans to interview Philadelphia third-base coach Art
Howe, one of his former major league managers, about being his
Wakamatsu is a candidate for the A's job, and the Rangers had
given Oakland permission to speak with Wakamatsu if he wasn't their
choice as manager.
New York Mets third base coach Manny Acta and Phillies minor
league manager John Russell, a former Rangers catcher who caught
one of Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters, also interviewed but didn't
meet with Hicks.