ARLINGTON -- Nolan Ryan was at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday in his first appearance there since his retirement from the Rangers in October.
Ryan was there for a social event, the guest speaker at the UT-Arlington baseball banquet. Ryan also took some time beforehand to visit with some old friends in the Rangers' front office, including executive vice presidents Chuck Morgan and Jay Miller.
Ryan was also amused to see a significant number of reporters there to talk to him before the banquet.
"Boy, it must be a slow news night," Ryan said.
There was a time when it was big news whenever Ryan spoke. That was when he was the Rangers' club president and CEO. Now he is retired, and he said he is enjoying his time away from baseball, although he still owns the Triple-A Round Rock Express and the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
"I've been pretty good at this retired deal," Ryan said. "I go to the office in Round Rock and go to the ranch a lot and spend a lot of time with the grandkids during the holidays. It's really been good, because I've been able to set my own schedule and don't have nearly as many requirements and requests.
"I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. It's been nice to not have a schedule and not getting on airplanes and going to owners meetings, like they've had this week. I've enjoyed it. It's been a nice break for me. I don't know what it will be like once Spring Training starts and the season starts. I'll just have to see how that is."
Ryan, who turns 67 at the end of the month, retired after six years of running the Rangers. He has not ruled out returning to baseball in some capacity, and there are still some who think he will end up with the Astros again, because his son, Reid, is their president of business operations.
"I think everyone is making that assumption because of Reid being over there and the fact I played there longer than I did anywhere else," Ryan said. "I was basically a Colt 45 and Astros fan, and that's my hometown in a sense. I could see where that's the expectation. I haven't made any plans of any sort. I'm certainly open if anyone has an interest in me, but right now, I'm not looking for a job or anything.
"It's kind of nice, because I'm not in a hurry doing things. That's different than what I'm accustomed to. I'm enjoying the fact I can set my schedule and go to the ranch, and I can stay three days or I can stay a week because I don't have to be somewhere else."
Ryan admitted he might feel differently when Spring Training opens up. As president and CEO, Ryan was in charge of every phase of the Rangers' operations, but there was never any doubt that he enjoyed the baseball side of the job more than anything.
Ryan was almost always around in Spring Training once the games began, whether it was sitting in the front row of the main stadium for a Cactus League game or on his golf cart watching the Minor Leaguers on the back field.
"I remember when I retired as a player, it didn't hit me until the first of the year, when I should have been picking up my conditioning program and I wasn't," Ryan said. "When Spring Training rolled around and they were covering Spring Training and I wasn't there. It will be different when I see how it is. I don't know."
He is still keeping up with the Rangers. Asked to assess the Rangers' offseason, Ryan said they've improved their offense, but he is concerned about Derek Holland undergoing left knee surgery and possibly missing the first half of the season.
"We all know the impact pitching has," Ryan said.
Spoken like a true baseball executive.
"I'm still a baseball fan," Ryan said. "I read the paper every day and watch what's going on."
Maybe he shouldn't have retired.
I'm not a believer in regrets," Ryan said."I feel very blessed I had the opportunity to be here for six years in the role that I was."
He may not have any regrets, but ...
"I think that when you feel like you didn't get everything done you'd like to see get done, there's some disappointment," Ryan said. "But I have very fond memories of my years here with the Rangers."
What didn't get done?
"Win a world championship," Ryan said. "A lot of neat things happened while I was here, but we didn't get that done, and that was disappointing."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.