ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' goal as an organization is to win a World Series. They expect to win a World Series, and they are counting on Chris Woodward to be the manager that leads them there."I love that … I embrace expectations," Woodward said on Monday morning when introduced as
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' goal as an organization is to win a World Series. They expect to win a World Series, and they are counting on Chris Woodward to be the manager that leads them there.
"I love that … I embrace expectations," Woodward said on Monday morning when introduced as the 19th full-time manager in Rangers history.
"You will hear me say that a lot with our players," he said. "I want our players to have expectations of winning a World Series. You have to establish that belief now. Doesn't mean we can't win the World Series this year, not saying that will happen. But I want our players to have that belief inside them with everything they do."
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Woodward, 42, comes to the Rangers from the Dodgers organization, spending three years as the third-base coach for an organization steeped in analytics and cutting-edge technology. Woodward, as an infield instructor, was heavily involved in the Dodgers' defensive shifts and absorbing any information that could give his players an edge.
But the Rangers did not hire Woodward because he is an information and analytical guru. That's an important part of the job, but it doesn't define who he is. Woodward is first and foremost a baseball man who knows exactly what he expects from his players.
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"When you watch our team play on the field, you should witness a team that is passionate, that is aggressive, has energy, doesn't take anything for granted, plays every pitch to win," Woodward said. "My expectation is for every single player on every single pitch to be prepared to play hard, to give everything they have."
Woodward knows what he is up against with a team that was 67-95 this past season. Texas has a talented group of young position players who have yet to reach their potential and a pitching staff that needs almost a complete rebuild from top to bottom.
The new manager does not talk about results. Instead, Woodward keeps going back to "the process" of what it will take to get the Rangers to where they want to go.
"Players nowadays get caught up in results and how many home runs they hit, how many wins they have," Woodward said. "All these things are important, but I want to drive home the process that's going to get the results. It's important to buy into that message. When guys are obsessed with getting better every day, and we have a staff that's positive and relentless in getting guys better, it really shows."
Woodward said Texas' clubhouse -- players and coaches -- must be focused on how players are going to get better every day, whether it is through analytics, improved technique or just getting after it in their pregame workouts.
"My expectations are for this team to get better," Woodward said. "You can't put a number on it, wins or losses, the home runs, how many wins the pitching staff will have, the ERA. Those things are a result of the process. Ideally what we are putting into place is the foundation for a championship culture and belief."
General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers ultimately interviewed 15 candidates, either in person or on the phone. Each candidate interviewed with as many as 20 people from the organization.
Woodward stood out in two major areas, Daniels said.
"First and foremost, his interpersonal leadership skills," Daniels said. "He is extremely bright, high energy, you can see that as a third-base coach. You see it when you sit down and see what he is passionate about. He is a communicator and a good listener, selfless leader with minimal ego.
"He also brings a really unique understanding of the game, developing strategies, how to use data and probabilities to make decisions, but also understanding the role that plays in blending elements with a feel for players and what drives them. A really good balance."
Woodward, just like Rangers infielder Michael Young, learned the game on the sandlots of Covina, a blue-collar town in Southern California. He was 5-foot-4 as a sophomore infielder with no hopes of playing professional baseball. That started to change when Woodward grew seven inches in one year. He was the Most Valuable Player for Northview High as a senior and was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 54th round of the 1994 Draft.
That was under the draft-and-follow rules. Woodward spent a year a Mr. San Antonio College (Walnut, Calif.) and then signed with the Blue Jays. He spent all or part of 12 seasons in the big leagues as a utility infielder. Woodward played in 659 games in the big leagues and 1,007 in the Minors. He even managed New Zealand in the 2016 qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic.
"Listen, all I wanted to do is play baseball," Woodward said. "I didn't know anybody that got drafted, I didn't really have anybody to help me. It all works out. I tell players that all of the time, the cream rises to the top. I've always said that to players, so guys that feel like they're getting maybe the short end of the stick on the team, or they're not getting enough playing time, you've just got to keep persevering.
"You keep doing things the right way, people notice and you'll get your time."
Woodward's time has come now as manager of the Rangers.
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.