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Rangers wrap up 2003 season
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09/28/2003  6:40 PM ET 
Rangers wrap up 2003 season
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com

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    ANAHEIM -- The Rangers wrapped up the 2003 season and their fourth consecutive fourth-place finish with a 4-1 loss to the Angels in front of 42,798 at Edison Field.

        Hank Blalock   /   3B
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 195
    Bats/Throws: L/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    splits
    Hit chart
    Rangers site

    But it was what happened during the campaign -- and not how it ended -- that will be remembered the most.

    Starting in Spring Training with new manager Buck Showalter, the Rangers were introduced to a new "winning culture" and the search for pieces in the "championship puzzle" officially began.

    Over the course of the season, Showalter found many candidates within the organization that fit his criteria. Top prospects and rookie players like Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Laynce Nix and Michael Young fit into the category along with veterans like Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

    Additionally, pitcher R.A. Dickey and outfielder Jermaine Clark also impressed the manager with their ability and effort.

    "We have a lot of things to be thankful for in the grand scheme of things," Showalter said. "It's nice to be part of an organization that has the guts to find a direction and stick with it. We went for it early on and we had some good things happen."

    Teixeira did his part by leading all Major League rookies with 26 home runs.

        Mark Teixeira   /   1B
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 225
    Bats/Throws: B/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Rangers site

    "This season has not gone well in the win column, but it has been great playing for Buck," Teixeira said. "I owe him a lot for giving me the opportunity to play and sticking with me through the season. I would not have been able to do what I have done if it were not for Buck and his support."

    Showalter's enthusiasm rubbed off on his players.

    "Buck came here to win ballgames and that's what we want to do," Young said. "That's why he is here and that's why we are here. We have the same interest -- winning baseball games."

      Michael Young   /   2B
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 190
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    texasrangers.com

    The season featured breakout performances by several young players and another outstanding year by Rodriguez. But the path to the end of the 2003 campaign has not been an easy one. Juan Gonzalez missed half the season and veterans like Carl Everett and Ugueth Urbina were traded as the club moved forward with their youth movement. In all, the Rangers acquired 11 players/prospects by the end of May as the movement toward youth began in earnest.

    "We still have some things to do, and we're going to do them," Showalter said. "It depends on how you want to look at it: half-full or half empty. We have some things that have to be shortened up, but there are not a lot of shortcuts."

    As for Palmeiro, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season and turned down a trade to the Cubs this season, the veteran admitted he had never experienced anything like the 2003 season.

    "It's been one of the toughest years that I have ever been through," Palmeiro said. "A lot happened this year that was unexpected, but I think I handled it the right way. It was hard not to get rattled, but I stayed strong and I think I had a good year."

        Rafael Palmeiro  /  1B
    Height: 6'0"
    Weight: 190
    Bats/Throws: L/L

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Orioles site

    Palmeiro hopes Sunday's game was not his last with the Rangers. He finished the day 1-for-3 with a .260 batting average for the season. He also hit 38 home runs in 2003, his ninth consecutive season with at least 38 home runs.

    "I don't want to think about this being my last game with Texas, but it's the last game of the season, so you think a little," Palmeiro said. "Hopefully, we can work something out and I can stay here and do my part to help out this organization."

    As for Thomson, he was charged with eight hits and three runs for the loss Sunday, dropping his record to 13-14 for the season. Rodriguez, who led the American League in homers with 47, finished 2-for-4 and finished the season with a .298 average, the first time in the last four seasons and the second time since 1996 that he has not hit at least .300.

    "It was a fun year, but every year has adversity," Rodriguez said. "But, I'm really proud of the way the infield came along. I think we have a great foundation and we can build upon this."

    Young finished the season with a .306 batting average and Blalock ended the season at .300. Rodriguez needed a base hit off Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth inning to hit .300. He struck out on a full count after swinging and missing on a 3-1 breaking ball.

    Jesse Sanchez 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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