Ron Washington Previews the Rangers’ Season by Addressing Derek Holland’s Struggles and Yu Darvish’s ProgressApril 4, 2012 – 7:45 am by Brad Gagnon
Coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, the Texas Rangers enter 2012 as one of the favorites in the American League to again return to the Fall Classic. But the AL is top-heavy, and in the offseason, Texas lost ace starter C.J. Wilson to division-rival Anaheim. That leaves manager Ron Washington with a hole that may or may not be filled, either from within or by import Yu Darvish.
Ron Washington joined Ben and Skin on ESPN Dallas to reflect on spring training and look ahead to the 2012 regular season. He offered a take on Derek Holland’s recent struggles, Josh Hamilton’s hold on center field, his decision to keep Elvis Andrus in the second spot in the order and the progress Yu Darvish has made.
On if he feels he has to protect against the grind of spring training to prevent players from becoming fatigued:
“Nope, that’s why you have spring. That’s the purpose of it — to go as hard as you can all day long. And then one thing about spring training: once the day is over, you can go home and sleep. And the process starts again the next day. And my guys are in a state of mind, they know what their purpose is down there in spring training. They’re taking care of themselves, they’re getting their rest. We certainly try to feed ‘em well and make sure that they have some vitamin energy through food and through other things. But nope, I never worry about that because that is the process of getting ready for a season and it’s on the schedule, and we play the schedule.”
On if fans should be concerned about Derek Holland’s poor finish to spring training:
“No, it’s been location. It’s been sometimes sequence of pitches. And it’s just been Derek sometimes leaving pitches in the wrong spot. But he’s proven that he can make the adjustments that have to be made. And we trust that. And I certainly trust Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins and Derek to figure out what he needs to do so on the 7th when he gets the ball he’ll be ready to go out there and do what we need him to do — that’s keep us in the ballgame. Adversity is a part of the game, and we’ll find out who can deal with it, and we’ll find out who can’t. And we feel like Derek can.”
On if it’s safe to say that Josh Hamilton has secured the center field spot:
“Well, it’s safe to say. But it’s also safe to say that you will see Josh in left field. Because I have (Craig) Gentry on this team also, and when I’ve put him out there his natural position is center field. And that’ll be the times when Josh will get a little break. But our best team is Josh out there, (David Murphy) in there against righties. You’ll see Murph against some lefties, but you won’t see Murph against all lefties, because we have a 25-man roster and I have to make sure that everyone is engaged because we will need everyone as we move through the season. But I can say that come opening day you’ll see Josh in center field, and you’ll see him in center field a lot of the time. But you’ll also see him in left.”
On Elvis Andrus hitting second:
“He’s the one guy that I can use in situations. And I always try to tell these guys situations are paramount, and then everything else falls after that. He’s the one guy I can bunt with, he’s the one guy I can hit-and-run with. He’s the one guy that can give up his at-bat to get the big boys up there to do some damage. As we get down deeper into the lineup, (Mitch) Moreland will be another one I’ll do some stuff with. Any way in between — it’s tough to ask Michael Young to bunt, it’s tough to ask (Adrian) Beltre to bunt, tough to ask those guys to hit and run. Which there may be a time I may do it just to catch someone off guard and see what happens. But those are my situation guys, and those are the guys I’ll use in situations. And when a situation dictates, you can forget about everything else but playing to the situation.”
On what he’s seen from Yu Darvish in spring training:
“Well, what I’ve seen is adjustments — he’s been able to make them. Each time he’s taken the ball to this point, he’s made whatever adjustments had to be made to make sure that he can go out there and compete and do the one thing that that we ask of all our pitchers: keep us in the ballgame. And he’s done that. He’s fitting in well in the clubhouse. He’s a gentleman, he’s a competitor. And more than that, he can manipulate the baseball. He’s better than most AAA pitchers that organizations are trying to get to the big leagues. He’s just as good as many big-league pitchers that are up here. And he just has to believe in his catchers, believe in the program that we put together each day that he pitches to try to get through a lineup, and make his adjustments as he goes along. We will allow him to have his input, because no one knows what he can do with a baseball better than he can. And all of that comes together, and it is coming together. And I think in the future, he will be a leader. This guy has good stuff, and he’s been a winner all his life — although it’s been on the other side of the world, as you said — but baseball to me is universal. I don’t care where you are, baseball is baseball. And if you can hit your spots, change speeds and work fast, keep the ball in play, you can win. And he can do all of that.”