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Rangers show faith in Washington

Rangers show faith in Washington

ARLINGTON -- Rangers president Nolan Ryan spent Monday afternoon visiting with Japanese baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato. General manager Jon Daniels met with his baseball staff about Kris Benson, who has a sore elbow and is being pushed back in the rotation.

They did not discuss manager Ron Washington's job status. Both made it clear that is not an issue for the Rangers and hasn't been. The team is off to a 5-7 start this season.

"Ron is fine," Ryan said, sitting in the home dugout on Monday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "I don't see anything that concerns me. He's done a good job."

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The Rangers' problem is that there does seem to be a perception surrounding the ballclub that Washington's future might be in doubt if the Rangers don't get off to a better start than they did the past two years. It also didn't help quell media speculation when the Rangers had lost seven of eight games before Sunday's dramatic 6-5 victory over the Royals.

But Daniels made it clear that Washington's job does not depend on how the Rangers do in April.

"I don't believe so," Daniels said. "Ron is our manager. I've read about stuff but there have been zero discussions about anything like that. I believe in this team and I believe in this staff. I want to give them a chance to get going.

"April isn't any more important this year than any other season and with any other club. Every month is important. The organization and the players in the clubhouse believe we can win the division. Every month is important but the gloom and doom part in the media ... that's overblown."

As far as media speculation, Daniels said, "It comes with the territory. One loss or one series is not what we're going to judge the season on. We all want to see guys play up to their capability, pay attention to details and focus on the execution of little things."

The Rangers do have some concerns and pitching remains an obvious one. The Rangers begin their seven-game road trip to Toronto and Baltimore with a staff ERA of 6.45, including a combined 7.68 ERA among their relievers. They've already sent Warner Madrigal to the Minors and designated Josh Rupe for assignment while adding Willie Eyre and Derek Holland.

"There's always room for improvement but I thought on the last homestand the bullpen showed signs of settling down," Daniels said. "Frank Francisco, C.J. Wilson and Jason Jennings have all had multiple quality outings. Hopefully Derek will help. It's something we've talked about since Spring Training, we need guys to be able to settle into their roles. Hopefully they'll do that in the next few weeks."

The Rangers also have some rotation concerns and Benson has some tendinitis in the elbow. He was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday against the Blue Jays but will be pushed back to Saturday against the Orioles. With the Rangers off on Monday, everybody else will be pushed up a day.

"He's had this a couple of days and it has gotten better with treatment," Daniels said. "With the [Monday] off-day and our ability to take advantage of it, the medical staff seems to think he'll be all right."

The Rangers are also watching Vicente Padilla. He is 1-1 with a 9.64 ERA after three starts and his velocity appears to be down from his normal 94-96 mile per hour readings. So far there is no indication that he is hurt.

"The last two outings the velocity is down from where you'd like it to be or where it was in Spring Training," Daniels said. "It's nothing physical. It just might be some late-spring dead arm."

Just about every team in baseball -- with the possible exception of the Marlins and Dodgers -- has something to fret about even this early in the season. The Twins, Angels and Yankees all have bullpens with an ERA over 7.00. Angels relievers have an 8.31 ERA. Both the Yankees and the Indians have a staff ERA that's higher than the Rangers.

Overall, despite the pitching problems, Ryan said he's happy with what he has seen from the Rangers in the first two weeks of the season.

"We've been inconsistent at times and we have a couple of people off to slow starts," Ryan said. "But on the whole I'm happy with the way we've played. We just haven't pitched as well in certain games.

"Certainly I'd like to see our record flip-flopped but I don't think that's Ron's fault. But [Sunday] was a big win for us to allow us to go on the road trip in a good state of mind."

Regardless of speculation, Daniels and Ryan both said that the Rangers have a better ballclub than last year and they are playing better than last year. They expect that to ultimately be reflected in the club's record and that will take care of any speculation about Washington's situation.

"Winning cures all," Daniels said. "Get on a roll, then that's what people will talk about. That's where our heads are at."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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