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Winter Meetings interview with Ron Washington

Q. What are you hoping that comes out of the Winter Meetings for the Rangers?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, that we get a good opportunity to see what our options are, and we know some of our options that are in front of us allows us to get them down here in the Winter Meetings, we will. But we certainly won't be in a panic mode if nothing happens.

Q. What are you hoping that comes out of the Winter Meetings for the Rangers?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, that we get a good opportunity to see what our options are, and we know some of our options that are in front of us allows us to get them down here in the Winter Meetings, we will. But we certainly won't be in a panic mode if nothing happens.

Q. What needs to happen?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, nothing really needs to happen. We certainly want to try to strengthen our outfield and look at what our options are out there pitching wise and maybe DH. But we certainly have until April 1st to make certain to get those things taken care of.

Q. What about another starting pitcher, based on what's happened the last two years?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, you always need depth, and if there is an option there that we could get another starting pitcher and it fits, then we certainly will do that. But if we, let's say, get out of here without it, we won't panic. We have until April 1st.

Q. What if your general manager says we're done, we're done, this is your team?

RON WASHINGTON: Then we're done. We'll take the team we have and we'll go to war with it, and we'll feel good about it when we do that.

Q. Speaking of the team that you have, it seems like with the moves that you guys have made this winter, Leonys Martin is your everyday centerfielder without question and probably positioned to be your relief outfielder. Does that put him in a significant role?

RON WASHINGTON: He's always played a significant role because he sits in the middle of the baseball field. If that's the case where he becomes the leadoff hitter, we'll certainly work with his mental approach to being a leadoff hitter in spring training and hope that his improvement could be as rapid as it was last year.

Q. If you were to get another bat and you have a choice of getting a leadoff hitter or middle of the order guy, which do you prefer?

RON WASHINGTON: Probably middle of the order guy. Run production. Leonys is a leadoff guy, his job is to get on base and score runs and make things happen. So I'd like production.

Q. Is your intent right now while you play around on paper with the team you have, that Leonys would get the first shot as leadoff?

RON WASHINGTON: Right now on December 9th? I haven't made the lineup out that far yet.

Q. You haven't played around with your roster?


Q. You didn't bring your pen with you, your magic pen?


Q. Could you talk a little bit about the physical condition of Kobe Lewis and Matt Harrison [CHK].

RON WASHINGTON: Well, they both are okay to work out right now and they should all be well once they arrive in spring training. I think from that point he'll let us know how far we can push him or whether we have to back off a little bit. But right now health wise, it's a go. So we'll just see how his body reacts when they go through all the physical activities they have to go through in spring training to get prepared for the season.

Q. What kind of report have you had about two or three players that played in the winter league?

RON WASHINGTON: All reports are very well. Robbie Ross did an outstanding job. Profar did an outstanding job. Martin did an outstanding job. So everybody who went down to winter ball did an outstanding job. We're very pleased with that experience, and hopefully when we get to spring training come to 2014, it will be advantageous.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Mitch Moreland now that you've acquired Prince Fielder? Where does that leave him?

RON WASHINGTON: Mitch has played a little outfield. He will play some first base, and Prince will get a spell. He can also slide in the DH spot. So there are still at bats there from Mitch, and we certainly intend on using them.

Q. You would prefer if you had your choice, you would prefer a guy in the middle of the order rather than a leadoff hitter? If you had to get one or the other, you prefer the guy in the middle of the order?

RON WASHINGTON: Preference wise, I like production. But if we can acquire a top notch leadoff hitter, I'll accept that also.

Q. How many starting pitchers are you planning to add?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, right now we have some depth in the starting rotation. We're looking at the options that are out there, and as of right now we haven't picked any of them yet, but we will not stop looking. Right now we have some depth in the starting rotation.

Q. Could you possibly look at the Japanese market possibly?

RON WASHINGTON: We're looking for all markets, including Japanese markets.

Q. When you look at the Division the last couple years, what has made the A's such a formidable opponent for you guys?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's obvious that you've got runners across the plate in key situations that made the difference. They've always pitched. They've certainly taken their game to another level in the past couple years as far as being able to cause havoc on the base paths. They have tremendous outfield defense and they have some power. That's been the difference right there.

Q. You guys dealt with them. Talk about Craig going over there. You don't often see the top two teams in the division maybe making a deal big or small?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, it was something that helped both of us. We got a future star possibly, and they got a defensive specialist and base running specialist. They played over there in Oakland an awful lot. He handled left handers very well, so I think for both teams the trade fit.

Q. Could you talk a little about your centerfielder that made that trade, made Gentry expendable? Leonys Martin?

RON WASHINGTON: Martin didn't make Gentry expendable because Gentry is a piece we use. But Martin's growth, it's something that we certainly were looking for throughout the year. We hope that it continues. But I don't think we want to lose speed and defensive ability. But sometimes things happen that benefits both teams, and this trade benefits both teams.

Q. What do you think about the division in general and some of the big moves that have been made? This offseason, Seattle, you guys with Prince, and then in previous years with the Angels picking up big names? It seems like the AL West is really the division where some bigger names are winding up?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think the past three or four years it's certainly come into its own. Seattle making a move this year with Cano. It's certainly helped spark the offense that they've been looking for because they've always been able to play defense. I mean, the past four or five years, we've certainly been trying to beat a big team that does everything. And you know, Oakland, they've always pitched. As I said, they have disciplined hitters. As of right now, when they get the pitch, they don't miss it.

So the West is no easy challenge. But we're in the west, and we've been in the West. That's not going to change, and we look forward to the challenge.

Q. Is your roster in shape right now? You've got three young guys figuring to be in your lineup every day whether Beltre, Profar, and Martin. Is Leonys in a better position to make a big jump performance wise than those other guys?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I'm not in the business of predicting in the game of baseball. We certainly hope that with what Martin achieved last year or this year, because we're not into the next year yet, what he's achieved, he can continue to build on it. And if he does, he becomes the guy that we always knew he was. But this year was quite an experience for him to learn how to play the game of baseball under control and contribute. He certainly did that as the year progressed. We're looking for big things out of Martin. I think Martin is looking for big things out of Martin, and because he feels like that, I think it will work.

Q. Can you talk about the last couple of (No microphone) and how it didn't go as planned?

RON WASHINGTON: It's obvious in the game of baseball in '10 '11 when we went to the World Series, we played some of the best baseball in the American League and maybe all of Major League Baseball when we got to the playoffs. That's what it takes in baseball, who plays the best down the stretch.

The past couple years we haven't done that. So if we can get back to playing our best baseball in September, I think we can look for the fruits at the end.

Q. What kind of pitcher do you see in Beltre?

RON WASHINGTON: A gamer, a leader, and a guy that will take the ball. That's what they have.

Q. What is your closer situation?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, right now internally we've got Soria, we've got Feliz, we've got Scheppers who will come into spring training and see where it goes. That will not preclude us from continuing to look and add a piece from the outside. But right now we'll go with what we have as of today.

Q. Is there any preferred pecking order of those three at this point?

RON WASHINGTON: No, not right now on December 9th (laughing).

Q. Feliz was your closer before he got hurt. If he's 100% healthy, would it be his job to lose?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I can't answer that question right now because we haven't told Feliz he got the job as the closer. So only thing we're concerned about is he makes it through winter ball healthy. If his arm makes it through winter ball healthy, we'll deal with that in the fall.

Q. What would be your expectations of Prince playing in winter ball?

RON WASHINGTON: Just be Prince. It's obvious if he stays healthy and he gets his 600 plus at bats, there will be damage. So as far as expectations goes, the guy has always put up monster numbers, and we certainly expect him to put up monster numbers in our ballpark. I think he would put up monster numbers in any ballpark. But we certainly don't want him to think that he has to put the Texas Rangers on his shoulder. We just want him to be Prince.

Q. Last year you started to wrestle Beltre a little bit out of the lineup every once in a while. Prince has played 155 or more games every year. Are you going to have to do the same thing with Prince that you did with Beltre?

RON WASHINGTON: Definitely. Running through the DH slot, give him a day off here and there. It won't be many. But we'll get him off his feet and do what we can do to keep him productive, that's for sure.

Q. Can you pinpoint why he may have struggled at times last year?


Q. Prince.

RON WASHINGTON: Human. Human. You play enough baseball, it will happen.

Q. Updates on Darvish, his recovery and rehab?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, he came in to see the doctors, and everything seems to be scheduled that he'll be ready to go when we get to spring training, as everyone else is.

Q. So nothing's changed?

RON WASHINGTON: Nothing has changed.

Q. He'll throw at some point in time this winter?

RON WASHINGTON: No doubt about it.

Q. So Harrison, Ogando, Darvish, that's 60% of your rotation that might have lingering medical concerns. Do you feel good about the rotation?

RON WASHINGTON: That's why we've got depth. I feel pretty good. We'll see if those become issues. Right now on December 9th, it's not an issue.

Q. What kind of player are the Tigers getting in Kinsler?

RON WASHINGTON: Class, leader, difference maker, tremendous defensive player, tremendous base runner. I think that he'll help the Tigers as well as he helped us. It gave us quality and got quality in return.

Q. Did you see anything specifically last year? They had a little bit of a down year, did you see anything?


Q. Was he dealing with injuries at all?

RON WASHINGTON: We all deal with nagging injuries. Had some nagging injuries. But as I said, if you play this game long enough, there will be a year where things just don't fall into place.

One thing that didn't fall into place was Holland. As a group, he certainly wasn't as consistent as he'd like to have been offensively, which might have deterred from him scoring as many runs as he usually scores. So it was a team effort. But I don't think Kinsler lost much. It just was a down year for Ian Kinsler.

Q. You expect Derek Holland and Yu Darvish to be in your rotation? Do you have the same expectation for Matt Harrison?

RON WASHINGTON: Yes, I expect Matt Harrison to be in my rotation. Now, on December 9, I expect him to. He comes into spring training and everything goes well, and he makes it through all the rigorous stuff that we have to do in spring training, and he proves to us and to himself that he's healthy, he's in the rotation.

Q. On December 9th, he's on schedule with everybody else?


Q. Can you talk about Bo Porter and the Astros and what he's been able to do there in a short time?

RON WASHINGTON: Bo has one of the toughest jobs in the game. A player trying to break into the Major Leagues, and with that comes rumors. I thought he handled it extremely well. He kept a smile on his face. He stayed positive. He showed up every day and tried to make them believe. That is what you're supposed to do as a manager.

I thought the kids improved as the year went on. It may not have shown in the wins and losses, but they certainly improved and gained experience, and he was right there with them.

Q. What do you see this that ballclub that says to you this year they may gain more wins?

RON WASHINGTON: I haven't been following the Houston Astros. But usually when you go through a year of growing and you're talented, you can maybe make an adjustment going into the next year. How much that will equate to wins, we'd have to wait until we get between the lines on April 1st to see where it goes.

Q. Do you think Prince, assuming he hits fourth, can give Beltre the kind of protection he gave Cabrera and also Braun? Do you believe in that?

RON WASHINGTON: I think Prince can protect anyone. Can he protect Beltre? Certainly he can. He's been doing it all his life to protect it, so I don't see why he wouldn't be able to protect Beltre if that's the case.

Q. You've already said Phil is going

RON WASHINGTON: I said if that's the case.

Q. So is your plan still for Philly to hit third?


Q. Again, I know it's December 9th, but there are some guys on the market, and maybe some potential trade guys toward the middle of the order, left handed hitters. If you acquired another left handed hitter, would it appeal to you to somehow arrange it left right left in the middle of the order?

RON WASHINGTON: It just depends on who was acquired.

Q. So, I mean, you'd be open to

RON WASHINGTON: I'll be open to whatever makes our lineup work better.

Q. With Yu Darvish, you've obviously dealt with the old system. What is your thought on the new system?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't have the details on what it is, and undoubtedly it has to be pretty complicated because they haven't come out with it yet. Just got to wait to see. So it's hard for me to answer that. I don't know exactly what are the details.

Q. They're saying there are more choices for there are more teams?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, that's a good thing. That's a good thing. Baseball has been trying to do sharing, and we'll get to the point where we're sharing that also.

Q. If Prince hits ahead of Beltre, will he be getting the protection that he's always given other guys?

RON WASHINGTON: Yes, he will.

Q. Is that something he feels good about?

RON WASHINGTON: That's something he feels great about. As you mentioned, in all the years that he's been at the Major League level, he's been protecting people. Now that he's coming to Texas, I love Beltre hitting in the fourth hole. So that means that I'll probably put Prince in the third hole. But I also would like to say as the manager of the Texas Rangers, I'd like to be able to change my mind.

Q. Do you need a right handed at bat to pair with Moreland possibly?

RON WASHINGTON: I think we could use a right handed bat. It's not necessary.

Q. Your catcher situation, you're going to use Soto and Chirinos equally?

RON WASHINGTON: Soto is our everyday guy. So I'll figure out ways when I feel Soto needs days off that Chirinos will get in there. But Soto is the number one guy.

Q. Knowing, as you said, you guys are still looking for an outfielder, if you end up looking for somebody to pair with Moreland in the DH role, regardless of what happens, does it matter to you? Do you have a preference that that guy play infield positions or outfield positions or one or the other?

RON WASHINGTON: I don't think it matters as long as he can hit.

Q. But do you think it would be nice to have another right handed bat?

RON WASHINGTON: It would be nice to have a power bat.

Q. Disciplined batter?

RON WASHINGTON: Disciplined power bat. Any suggestions?

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