Texas Rangers Embrace Underdog Role

October 6, 2010 – 6:45 am by Eric Schmoldt

The Texas Rangers seem to be the forgotten team in this year’s Major League Baseball playoffs and it doesn’t sound like they necessarily have a problem with it.

Their other foes in the American League are certainly getting more hype. The Twins have the best record since the All-Star break and the Rays and Yankees? Well, they’re in the American League East, so they don’t really need any more hype than usual.

In the National League, you’ve got the Phillies, who seem to be the favorites of many, the Braves and Giants who were still playing for their postseason fate until the last day of the season and a Reds team that hasn’t been a playoff team in 15 years.

The Rangers are back after a long hiatus as well, but they pretty much wrapped it up a long time ago and have been without their star for most of the last month of the season. But they’re in, and they certainly have some talent. Now, can they surprise the nation?

Texas manager Ron Washington joined KRLD in Dallas with Newy Scruggs to discuss star outfielder Josh Hamilton’s health, his nerves heading into his first postseason as a manager, playing in back-to-back day games in the playoffs, embracing the underdog role, the media bringing back up his admission to using cocaine last season and the Rangers reaping the rewards for changing their culture.

On the status of Josh Hamilton:

“Well, Josh had three games under his belt there in Texas. You’ve got to expect him to be a little off, but his presence in our lineup makes everybody better. Being the athlete that he is and the competitor that he is, I’m expecting him to go out there, have some fun, enjoy the opportunity and he’ll come up big for us.”

On whether he’s nervous about managing in his first postseason:

“Well, nervous, I don’t know if it’s nervousness or just anxious energy. I’ve been in the game a long time. I know it’s a playoff game, but I’m only going to react to what the game asks me to do. I’ve always done that all my career. Plus, I have a lot of experience around me, so I’ll have support. I just can’t wait to get started. Nervousness, no, I don’t feel nervousness, but I will be anxious.”

On back-to-back playoff day games:

“That’s just the way it is. We got picked for day games. We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do. We got up here yesterday, worked out, and we’ll work out again today and we’ll prepare for those two ball games and bring it back home. That’s the way it has to be. Whichever way it is, we’re in the playoffs, so it doesn’t matter. If we have to play at 10 in the morning, we’ll be happy to do that.”

On the Rangers’ underdog role:

“When you look at all the teams that are in there, we had the least amount of victories and if that makes you the underdog, that makes you the underdog. I know that the type of team that the Rays are and I certainly know the type of team that the Twins and the Yankees are. In the playoffs, it’s all about who plays better on that day and that’s the way we go about our business every day.”

On having to answer questions all over again about his admitted cocaine use last year:

“This media that we’re meeting right now is media that may have read about things and I’ll answer the questions. I don’t have a problem with that as long as they’re not trying to get vicious with it. I have no problems. I put myself in this position and when you put yourself in certain positions, you have to be there to answer for whatever anyone has to ask. … That’s just the way it is and as much as I would like to put it behind me, it’s a part of Ron Washington now and Ron Washington did it to himself so I have to deal with it.”

On reaping the rewards now for changing the culture in Texas:

“It took a lot. It took the whole organization to get on the same page and we did. It took [management] to make sure that they could try to get us some pieces to help accomplish what we set out to accomplish in spring training. It took the players to go out there and perform for 162 games in a winning environment. That’s a tough environment to be in. It doesn’t take a whole lot to lose, but it certainly takes a lot every single day to show up here to win. … We all, whoever has anything to do with the Texas Rangers, deserve a lot of credit for winning.”

Listen to the interview with Ron Washington on KRLD in Dallas here

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