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Nolan thinks Astros can take strides similar to Rangers

HOUSTON -- No one understands the Lone Star Series quite like Nolan Ryan.

The pitching legend has his jersey retired by both the Rangers and Astros, and the new Houston executive advisor is barely six months removed from his time as the Rangers' CEO and part-owner.

Ryan welcomed his former club to Minute Maid Park for a three-game set, and he spoke before the game about his new role in Houston and his time in Arlington.

"It's interesting to have them come in to Houston," he said. "You hope somewhere down the road when they're both competing for the division, there'll be a lot of interest in [this series]."

While he was with the Rangers, they reached two World Series and became one of baseball's most consistent clubs. With the Astros, he said, it's a mindset similar to where Texas was before winning big.

"You take the Rangers ballclub, it's a veteran one with some outstanding talent now. But when I started, the veterans were sprinkled in and they were calling up talent," he said. "You have to be willing to have the payroll they have for that caliber. You can't really compare the Rangers and the Astros right now because of that."

Ryan said that starts with the farm system, where Houston is among the league's best.

Though Ryan said he hopes to do further scouting this summer, he's already pleased with the state of the arms on Houston's Minor League rosters.

"One thing encouraging about the Astros' system is that they have quality arms pretty much on every level," the former hard-throwing righty said. "They might not all get here at the same time, but in a short period they'll make a difference with this staff."

For now, Ryan's role is still more as consultant than hands-on advisor. But he said don't expect him to be as involved in Houston's day-to-day operations as he was in Arlington.

"They're developing," Ryan chuckled at a question about his responsibilities in the organization. "That's the best way to put it.

"I'm at a different point in my life and I see my role different now than when I was with the Rangers. That part of my career is behind me."

As for any rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers, the Alvin, Texas, native said the series isn't on that level yet.

"I don't think it's a real rivalry because it hasn't been very competitive recently," he said. "I don't think the teams view it as one yet but it's just a matter of time.

"The Astros are a young ballclub and haven't had the success the Rangers have had recently, so I think because of that [the Astros] take a lot of pride in beating them."

Chris Abshire is a contributor to
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