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Winter Meetings interview with Ron Washington

Winter Meetings interview with Ron Washington

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Q. How would you feel if your rotation stayed the way it is right now with Feliz and Font returning starters?

RON WASHINGTON: I would feel good. I think each and every one of them are quality, and the one thing that we do is go play baseball. That's what we would do. It's not like they haven't been through the wars before; they have. We're ready to go. And if I had to go with those guys, I'll feel good.

Q. My guess is you're not involved in contract talks, is that correct, with C.J. Wilson?

RON WASHINGTON: Yes.

Q. As you sit here, do you have a plan A if you have C.J. or plan B if you don't have C.J.?

RON WASHINGTON: Of course we've got contingencies. C.J. is here, we'll move normally as we have done. If C.J. is not here, the question that T.R. just asked me, we'll follow with that, and it would be a normal movement. We're not going to panic. We're going to show up and we're going to put the guys out there that we have, and we're going to do what we always do, play baseball.

Q. Have you stayed completely out or have you called C.J. and said, hey, we appreciate you here or anything like that?

RON WASHINGTON: I've stayed out of it.

Q. Next season how would you like to use Uehara?

RON WASHINGTON: Same way we used him this year, seventh inning, at times maybe in the eighth inning, but nothing has changed there. We still have a lot of confidence in Uehara.

Q. What are the keys for Feliz as far as successful transition?

RON WASHINGTON: Just not trying to do too much, trust his stuff, throw the ball over the plate, make sure that he's in tip top condition. That's the difference in being a reliever and a starter. You've got to be in tip top condition at all times. Everything that he may have to go through, we're here to help him. He's not going to go through this battle all by himself. We do feel like he has the repertoire and he will refine it starting before Spring Training, through Spring Training until the season opens, and then we'll give him the ball and let his talents and whatever knowledge we're able to impart to him help him make it through the season.

Q. Would you want another bullpen piece of C.J. or even if C.J. or Burley is added, would you want an additional --

RON WASHINGTON: I want good pieces in every area. We're certainly looking at every area, also, and the bullpen is certainly one of them.

Q. It seems like a lot of the almost all of the concentration is on pitching. Are there issues to be addressed also with field players, infielders and outfielders?

RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, utility guys, we're looking at that. I think for the most part, our position players, we're pretty good right there. We've got them all coming back, and they've all been productive. Every area we're looking at where we can improve. Yep, the emphasis has been on pitching, but pitching is what the game of baseball is all about. You've got to pitch before anything else can happen. But we're certainly still looking at every area to see where we can improve. And I do feel by the time April 6th rolls around, we'll have it all put together the way we would like to to have it put together.

Q. Tanner Shepard, does he have a shot at the back end of your bullpen?

RON WASHINGTON: Tanner Shepard has a shot to come into Spring Training and show us what he's about and compete. Everyone coming in is going to have to compete. He has a chance on doing that.

Q. Are you looking at him in the pen as opposed to starting?

RON WASHINGTON: Right now that's what he's been doing, throwing out of the bullpen, so there's no way all of a sudden we're going to bring him into big league camp and get him started. He'll come in and have an opportunity to compete for the job, and we'll see where it takes us.

Q. Talk about Feliz, the repertoire that he has at starter. Because he'll need a little wider repertoire, will you have him throwing any secondary pitches or anything like that?

RON WASHINGTON: No, we're not going to do anything like that. He adjusted to it last spring, and he'll have enough time in Spring Training to adjust to it, and he will get better as the year progresses. We're certainly not expecting him to come out right away and all of a sudden he's going to dominate. He will dominate before it's over, but it's progress.

Q. Do you still start with the fastball coming in from him and then move on to the secondary pitches?

RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, everything works off the fastball.

Q. What have you seen from his secondary pitches and where do they need to go?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I did see toward the end of the year he began to use it more often, and he began to command it a lot better.

Q. The off speeds?

RON WASHINGTON: The off speed stuff, mainly the breaking ball. He had a pretty good change up when he was a starter in the Minor Leagues, so I mean, we certainly have to work for him to get the feel back for that. That's why you have Spring Training. It may take him getting to some point in the season before he finally gets a good feel for it. It's not all of a sudden everything falls into place. We're willing to wait for it, and I do believe in Mike Maddox and I do believe in Andy Hawkins and I do believe in Neftali. Those three interviews right there, he'll get it done.

Q. What do you think of the addition of Joe Nathan to your bullpen and are you confident that he can be back to his old self?

RON WASHINGTON: Very confident that he will be back to his old self. When we tried last spring to give Neftali a chance to be a starter, we certainly weren't protected on the back end. This year Jon Daniels and everyone went out and protected us early, so we can get Feliz in the right frame of mind to become a starter.

Toward the end of the year last year, Joe began to show form again, and we're very content with him being on the back end. He's a guy that's been in playoff situations before, and he's certainly going to get an opportunity to close quite a few ballgames down on this team.

Q. Last year Michael started the season hitting sixth, Josh got hurt, he hit third, he went to fifth, when Nelson got hurt and Adrian got hurt, he finished fourth. Is it your plan, I know it's months away, but to put Adrian back in and have Michael further down in the lineup?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't think I'm going to have Michael hitting fourth again. I just want to wait and see. I don't want to get too premature where I have plans of hitting him in the lineup, but he will be in the lineup, I've just got to decide where. I certainly haven't messed with any lineups to this point.

Q. What do you believe are the chances we see Prince Fielder in a Rangers jersey next year?

RON WASHINGTON: We're keeping all avenues open. That's about all I can say on that one.

Q. Where do you see Feldman fitting in next year?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, he's a swing guy. He's been very versatile for us. We can use him out of the bullpen for a few innings, if need be for him to go in the rotation as a starter he can do that. I mean, he's just been a very versatile pitcher for us. He's certainly going to get an opportunity to come in Spring Training and work his way as a starter, and then as we get deeper into spring and start to put things together, then we'll really know where he's going to fit. But he's going to have an opportunity to come in in the spring and work as a starter.

Q. Would there be any level of disappointment for you if by the time this week is over, next week, whatever, you leave without C.J. or Burley or starting pitching help? Are you content with what you have now?

RON WASHINGTON: No, I won't be disappointed. Don't get me wrong; you want to do things to get better. But if I leave out of here disappointed, what am I telling my other guys? That's not the way we do things in Texas. We're going to go to war with what we have and we're going to make the best of what we have, and I expect that Jon Daniels and everyone that's out there trying to make deals will do what we need to get done to make us a better team. I'm not disappointed about anything. I'm just trying to enjoy the time right now and wait until after the New Year's to get the juices flowing again.

Q. What's your impression of Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish?

RON WASHINGTON: I don't know anything about Yu Darvish other than what I may hear someone say or what I saw when he pitched over here in the World Baseball Classic. I don't know much about him, I just know he has a good arm, he has a great repertoire as far as pitches go. That's about it. I haven't seen any film or anything.

Q. (Inaudible).

RON WASHINGTON: As I said, I don't know anything about him. But if you go by what you hear, I think he'll be a good fit on any staff.

Q. Do you think you're going to have to show a certain amount of patience with Feliz in Spring Training and early on in the season?

RON WASHINGTON: I think we're going to have to show a lot of patience with every one of our young starters that's going through this for the second time and even Feliz for the first time. We're going to have to show patience and I think that's one of our mantras as a team. We show patience to our young kids and we give them a chance. We are going to show patience.

Q. Do you sit down with him in Spring Training and say you don't have to blow us away right away, you don't have to win a spot or come out in a ball of fire?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think we will sit down and talk to him about pace, how you go about your business as a starter, the things that you want to try to do and where you want to get, so this is where we want you at a certain time, and it's a process. So we'll have him go through the process, we'll help him go through the process, and that's exactly where we'll start things.

Q. Did you call him with the news that he was going to be a starter?

RON WASHINGTON: We called and told him what our plans were, and he was very pleased because we certainly gave him time to digest it, what we expect. He was all for it. He was very complimentary in the way we called early enough so that he could mentally get prepared. Q. You've got a pretty crowded center field, got a lot of options there. What's your thinking now before Spring Training about that?

RON WASHINGTON: Let those guys play and see who wants the job. That's it. We're going to let them play and see who wants the job. There's quality there, and we'll just let them play and see who takes the job.

Q. So nobody in mind right now before this season starts, if I have to start the season tomorrow, X would be my center field?

RON WASHINGTON: Hypothetical.

Q. What does Craig Gentry need to show you to be an everyday center fielder?

RON WASHINGTON: That's a tough question. I think Gentry has tremendous defensive skills. I think we've all seen that, and I think he has a great arm, very accurate. But as I said earlier, he's just got to come into Spring Training and win the job. When I see what I need to see, then I'll be able to answer that question.

Q. Did you ask him to go to winter ball and work on something or did he go to winter ball on his own?

RON WASHINGTON: Yes, I asked him to go to winter ball. I just think he needs to play baseball. He's a kid that showed some tremendous skills, and it's his first opportunity at the Major League level, and I think to get better at this game you have to play, and he's young enough to continue to play, so I feel like it's going to help.

Q. Just get at bats down there?

RON WASHINGTON: Just get at bats and just keep playing the game.

Q. Alexi Ogando started strong but did not finish strong. Are you communicating with him in any way so he can prepare himself better so he'll be more sustained?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, what, he threw 170 something innings. If he could add 20 innings to that, I'll be satisfied. I have no doubt that he will. I think we have to help him to pace himself, and we will do that. But right now, as long as a season as we've had, I think those guys right now need to just be relaxing the way they're relaxing, and we'll have time enough to get in his head and get him prepared to do what we need him to do in 2012.

Q. When you are planning to use Uehara as a seventh inning guy, how does Mike Adams -- what kind of role is Mike Adams going to play?

RON WASHINGTON: Well, Mike Adams is going to be my eighth inning guy. I'd say Uehara is going to be seventh or eight. It just depends on the workload that Mike Adams might have at a certain time. He might not be available that night and I have Uehara to set in that slot. As it stands right now, it's Uehara, Mike Adams and Nathan.

Q. Are there any particular parts of the World Series that you replayed more than others in the offseason here?

RON WASHINGTON: I think I might have replayed the two times that we needed to make one pitch or make one play to win it. Other than that, no.

Q. Mostly Game 6 then?

RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, but other than that, I had so much going on in my life once the World Series ended, I didn't have time to think about it, and that was a good thing.

Q. You've had two relievers turn starters, C.J. who had a lot of experience starting in the minors, and Alexi, who had that long hiatus. C.J. was able to pitch 200 innings and put in a full year, Alexi like we just discussed. Where do you see Feliz? Is he more like Wilson in that he started in the minors or is he more like Ogando?

RON WASHINGTON: I really don't know. It's an unknown commodity. I don't know until we get out there and see what he does. I really don't know. But we're willing to give him the opportunity for us to find out. Right now, I don't know.

Q. Is 200 innings unrealistic at this point?

RON WASHINGTON: Could be. But maybe Neftali might fool us. But it probably could be. Maybe at some point during the course of the year we're going to have to monitor it and monitor his innings. It just depends on what he shows us once we get into the season. He might be strong as an ox throughout and may weaken somewhere. It's up to us to decide if he weakens and we have to make an adjustment or if he's strong as an ox, we can let him go. We've just got to put him out there and watch him.

Q. Ogando is strong as an ox. Feliz doesn't appear to be as strong as Ogando just looking at him, but I know that can be deceiving. How strong or conditioned is Feliz?

RON WASHINGTON: Once again, you're asking a question that's hard for me to answer right now. He's never done it at the Major League level. The conditioning part of it is going to come along. Right now, it's coming along right now. We've already sent programs out to him in the Dominican to get this started. It will continue once he makes it down to Surprise, and then we'll just have to see as we move forward how he reacts to it. But as the course of the season progresses, some guys wear down and some guys get stronger. He may be one that I hope gets stronger.

Q. Did Feliz get heavier during the season?

RON WASHINGTON: I didn't see where he was heavy during the season.

Q. It's hard to tell?

RON WASHINGTON: Yeah, I didn't see it.

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