ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward will wear the No. 8 on his uniform. The number, most often worn by Texas catchers, carries special meaning for Woodward.Woodward wears it in honor of his high school coach Tom Quinley, who passed away in August after a long battle with lung cancer.
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward will wear the No. 8 on his uniform. The number, most often worn by Texas catchers, carries special meaning for Woodward.
Woodward wears it in honor of his high school coach Tom Quinley, who passed away in August after a long battle with lung cancer. Quinley, well-known in the Southern California coaching ranks, coached at three Southern California high schools, including Northview High School in Covina, where Woodward was one of his players.
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"My high school coach who started coaching me when I was about 13, he was also No. 8," Woodward said. "His favorite player growing up was Yogi Berra, big Yankees fan, so he would always have No. 8, and I would wear No. 8 on the same team. So he would be coaching third as the manager, and I would be No. 8 as the shortstop. He passed away this past season, and it was very emotional for me because he was …
"He took the role of many things for me, obviously as a mentor, as a father figure, he did everything for me. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. So to sit here and put this uniform on and have No. 8 on my back for the first time in my Major League career, it's pretty special for me, and obviously in honor of him. Like I said, it's a tremendous honor to put this on and know that he's watching upstairs."
Woodward and former Rangers infielder Michael Young are both from Covina and have also known each other for a long time. But they weren't on the same teams. Woodward went to Northview while Young went to Bishop Amat Memorial, a Catholic school in nearby La Puenta.
Woodward said Young was the best player in the area and played on all the elite teams.
"He was the best player I have ever seen at that age," Woodward said. "Obviously, he had a much better career than I did, but I made it to the Major Leagues before he did. That is something that I have mentioned to him many times, because he was at a level none of us had ever seen."
Woodward crossed paths with Beltre
Woodward and third baseman Adrian Beltre were in the Mariners organization together in 2009, but they only played for a brief time together in the Major Leagues. Woodward started the season at Triple-A Tacoma and wasn't called to the big leagues until June 18 when second baseman Jose Lopez went on the bereavement list.
Woodward replaced him and then stayed in the big leagues when shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt went on the disabled list six days later. Then, on June 30, Beltre went on the disabled list to undergo surgery on his left shoulder, and Woodward helped fill in for him.
Woodward stayed on the big league roster until Aug. 4 when he was designated for assignment because Beltre was activated off the disabled list. Beltre only stayed active for nine days before suffering his most famous injury. He was hit in the groin by a wicked ground ball and was not wearing a protective cup. Beltre missed more than two weeks with a severely contused right testicle.
Woodward was gone by then after being claimed on waivers by the Red Sox. But he wouldn't mind having another conversation with Beltre, 39, about the possibility of playing for the Rangers next year.
"Adrian is one of the finest people I've ever played with," Woodward said. "I played with him in Seattle, he wasn't very good. He was hurt. He never would have told you. Remarkable human being, tremendous leader, leaves it all on the field. We'll discuss that when it happens."
No concern about 'splash'
The Rangers could have made a big "splash" by pursuing a name manager like Joe Girardi, Mike Scioscia or Brad Ausmus. General manager Jon Daniels said that was not their intent.
"The only thing we cared about is somebody we felt would lead us to where we want to go," Daniels said. "I don't believe that anybody buys a ticket based on who the manager is. They come to see an energetic team playing a brand of baseball they like and that has a chance to win a championship. That's why we hired Chris.
"Ron Washington, we hired him [in 2006], people weren't excited about, and they grew to love him here. He was a star here. He was a star here because of the culture that he created and allowed his players to play and motivated them to play. We were looking for somebody who can help create a culture."
• Woodward played in 659 Major League games. That's the most by a Rangers manager since Toby Harrah, who played in 2,155 games before becoming Texas' manager in 1992. The Rangers' managers since then have been Johnny Oates, Jerry Narron, Buck Showalter, Ron Washington, Tim Bogar, Jeff Banister and Don Wakamatsu.
• Woodward was the Dodgers' third-base coach when they went to the World Series in 2017-18. The Dodgers lost two in a row, just like the Rangers did in 2010-11.
"This has taken away the sting of losing two in a row," Woodward said. "Two World Series in a row. Rangers fans, I feel your pain, it's real, I get it."
• The Rangers have had 15 players wear No. 8, and eight of them have been catchers: Juan Centeno, John Holaday, Bobby Wilson, Geovany Soto, Yorvit Torrealba, Luis Pujols, Bob Johnson and Dick Billings. Other prominent No. 8s were Oddibe McDowell, Jack Daugherty and Jerry Browne.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.