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04/23/08 7:35 PM ET
Rangers' execs disappointed by start
Inconsistency on both offense and defense not helping cause
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The Rangers' poor start has club president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels concerned, but not to the point that they're ready to make rash changes. That's not their style, and won't be now, even though the Rangers go into Wednesday's game with the Detroit Tigers with a 7-14 record that is the worst in the American League. The Rangers were already five games behind the Angels in the American League West, but Ryan understands it's still early in the season. "I'm disappointed we haven't played better," Ryan said on Wednesday afternoon. "I was hoping we'd get off to a better start. I was more concerned about how our pitching was going to do, but the highlight so far has been how our pitching staff has performed. I'm disappointed we haven't been more consistent defensively and offensively. It's been the opposite of what you thought might happen." There was at least one national report that manager Ron Washington is on the "hot seat" but the Rangers insist there is no credence to that and there are no indications anybody is in jeopardy right now. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it, we haven't played good baseball," Daniels said. "But if you go back to the series in Boston, we had a lead in two games into the eighth inning where we pitched well and we ended up losing. I have a hard time putting that on the manager. Things like that are going to happen over the course of a season. "We've had a three-week stretch where we've given away some ballgames and we certainly don't want that to continue, for ourselves, our fans and everybody in the organization. But I'm not going to sit here and lay the blame on any one person. From top to bottom, we haven't performed very well." The Rangers went into Wednesday's game having committed 22 errors in 21 games, the highest in the American League. Their 14 unearned runs allowed are also the highest in the league. Their pitching has had some bright spots, but they still went into Wednesday's game with a 4.86 team ERA, the second highest in the league. Their pitchers have walked 99 -- second most in the league -- and struck out 99. That's the fewest in the league. A pitching staff that leads the league in getting ground balls and doesn't strike out many hitters being backed up by an erratic defense is not a comfortable situation. The Rangers were seventh in the league in hitting. But their .202 batting average with runners in scoring position is the lowest in the league, 36 points behind the 13th-place Yankees. That's why the Rangers have scored the third fewest runs in the league. "It's a tough time for all of us," Washington said. "I certainly didn't expect to find us where we are now. I certainly expected us to play better. I'm tired of saying it's only April, but it is April. We need to go out there and compete. We need us to pitch, catch and hit. I'd certainly like to put all three together at on night. Maybe it would help us get on a roll." Ryan understands what the Rangers' problems are, but is not ready for draconian measures, whether it be staff or players. The biggest concern the Rangers have is how poor play will impact attendance. The Rangers don't want to convey the impression of indifference, but they also have to guard against any perceived impressions that they are giving up on the season. Those executive decisions are made in July, not in April. The primary aim right now is to give this team a chance to pull itself out of the early slump. "You have to make sure you don't have a knee-jerk reaction to it," Ryan said. "If things don't indicate improvement then obviously there is going to have to be some discussions on what our approach is going to be. You don't put a timetable on it from the standpoint that you arbitrarily pick a date and say if things don't improve by then. "You have to evaluate each game and see if things are improving and see if there are things you can change. If things aren't improving, then what is your approach going to be?" The Rangers still know what happened last year. They had a rough April followed by an even worse May and they were out of contention by Father's Day. They were 52-45 in their last 97 games, but that didn't get them back into contention. "It's important to keep in perspective that it's only April, but we don't want to put ourselves in the hole we did last year," Daniels said. "If guys perform up to their ability and we start playing the kind of baseball we're capable of playing then there is no reason to be in that situation."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.