Rangers Choose Ron Washington As Manager

Monday, November 6th 2006, 3:35 pm
By: News On 6

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Ron Washington was hired as manager of the Texas Rangers after 11 seasons as an Oakland Athletics coach, inheriting a team that last made the playoffs in 1999.

``Ron is a teacher and winner who brings a great deal of integrity to our organization,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. ``He is a straightforward, energetic baseball man who we're excited to have lead the Rangers.''

The Rangers planned to introduce Washington during a news conference Monday. His two year contract includes two additional option years.

``I am very thrilled. I don't think I can find words to express it right now,'' Washington said by cell phone while on a plane Monday, about to fly from his native New Orleans to Texas. ``Maybe one day I will find the words.''

Washington was chosen over four other candidates to replace Buck Showalter. The Rangers fired Showalter after an 80-82 season, their sixth losing season in seven years.

The 54 year-old Washington becomes the Rangers' 17th full-time manager and first black manager.

Washington also had been a candidate in Oakland to replace fired A's manager Ken Macha. He first interviewed last month and met with owner Tom Hicks, Daniels and other Rangers officials during another interview Sunday.

``I've always said it's going to take a GM to convince an owner that I am the guy,'' Washington said. ``Daniels convinced Mr. Hicks and I'm very, very happy.''

Washington played parts of 10 seasons in the majors as an infielder for five teams. But his only managerial experience was two years at the Class-A level in the New York Mets organization before his 11 seasons as Oakland's infield instructor and 3rd base coach.

He was popular with Oakland players and was instrumental in the development of 6 time Gold Glove 3rd baseman Eric Chavez. The A's had the AL's top fielding team the past two seasons.

``I'm going to miss Oakland, and all the experiences I had the past 11 years and all of the people,'' Washington said. ``I'm going to take all of that with me. I can just blaze my own trail now.''

Washington stresses fundamentals and communication, and lets players be themselves. He takes over a team led by 3 time All-Star shortstop Michael Young, 2 time Gold Glove and slugging 1st baseman Mark Teixeira and Kevin Millwood.

When Showalter was fired with three years left on his contract, Daniels said the Rangers needed a ``different perspective.''

Showalter was known for his hands-on approach that led to some discontent in the clubhouse between the players and the manager. He was 319-329 in four seasons, and the Rangers never finished higher than 3rd in the AL West.

``The coaching staff and I have a hell of a task ahead,'' Washington said.

The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks both won the World Series the year after Showalter left them.

The other finalists for the Texas managerial job were Rangers bench coach Don Wakamatsu and Japan Series winning manager Trey Hillman, an Arlington native and the Rangers' former director of player development. Both interviewed with Daniels and Hicks last week.

New York Mets 3rd base coach Manny Acta and Phillies minor league manager John Russell, a former Rangers catcher who caught one of Nolan Ryan's 7 no-hitters, also interviewed but neither met with the owner.

Wakamatsu has been the Rangers' bench coach the past four years and still has a year left on his contract in Texas. He is a candidate for the Oakland job, and the Rangers had given Oakland permission to speak with Wakamatsu if he wasn't their choice as manager.