Rangers extend Washington's contract through 2009

Updated: August 31, 2007, 2:44 AM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- While the Texas Rangers are still a long way from where they want to be, they exercised their 2009 option on rookie manager Ron Washington's contract Thursday.

General manager Jon Daniels said the extension was an "easy decision" that he had been planning for some time.

Even though the Rangers are last in the AL West, they are 38-30 since mid-June after completing a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 5-1 victory Thursday night. Texas has a season-best five-game winning streak and has five straight winning homestands for the first time since 1998.

"Look what we've done the last three months after an obviously rocky start," Daniels said. "The constant and one of the biggest reasons we turned this thing around and played well in the face of adversity and some changes is [Washington]."

Texas has won even since trading Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne at the end of July. Plus, reliever Akinori Otsuka hasn't pitched since June and slugger Sammy Sosa has been relegated to a part-time player in the same season he joined the 600-homer club.

Washington got a two-year contract that included two additional option years when he replaced Buck Showalter in November. He was chosen over four other finalists for the job.

A coach the past 11 seasons for the Oakland Athletics, Washington's only managerial experience had been two years in the low minors.

"I'm just as happy today as the first day Jon offered me the job," Washington said. "This just shows the organization is going in the right direction. ... What we've accomplished is an excellent attitude, we have accomplished an attitude to make sure we go out and be true to the game."

The Rangers have had only one winning season since last making the playoffs in 1999, after their only three division titles in a four-year span. Texas has never won a playoff series.

Since the trades at the deadline, the Rangers have focused on the evaluation of young players like Nelson Cruz, Jason Botts and David Murphy. They are also playing Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the highly touted 22-year-old prospect who came from Atlanta in the Teixeira deal, every day at first base or catcher.

"Ron, for me, is the perfect partner as we grow this thing and continue to develop," Daniels said. "He is a teacher at heart, a winner and has a passion for the game. ... We're clearly not where we want to be. But with the guys we traded, the guys who have been hurt, for us to have gotten better says a lot about the manager and coaching staff and the direction they have set."

The Rangers dug themselves into too deep an early hole to contend in the AL West. They were already 13½ games back by the end of May.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press