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04/26/08 7:54 PM ET
Daniels supporting Washington for now
GM watching to see how team responds to rough start
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- For general manager Jon Daniels, there is no issue about who's in charge in the Rangers dugout. "Ron Washington is our manager," Daniels said before Saturday's game with the Twins. "I'm the general manager, and I'm a Ron Washington man. He's our manager." Daniels offered his remarks amid public speculation and perception that Washington may not be the manager much longer if the Rangers aren't able to overcome their 8-16 start. Certainly there are a number of reasons why the Rangers are off to a rough start, including shoddy defense and baserunning, their inability to hit with runners in scoring position and the familiar pitching problems that have come up again. But the focus right now is on the manager and a seemingly daily watch to see if Daniels and club president Nolan Ryan are contemplating a change. If there is a "death watch," Daniels doesn't see it that way. "I don't think that's accurate," Daniels said. "I think it's the reality of the game that if you don't play well, these things come up, but I wouldn't characterize it that way. I think the questions and the media focus are well deserved because we haven't played well. "But 24 games into the season, I'm more apt toward patience than the tone of some of the questions I have been getting." Daniels said he has spoken to Washington since the Rangers returned from the road trip, but they have not had any lengthy discussions or summit meetings. None are planned. Daniels and Ryan met with owner Tom Hicks on Friday to update him on what's going on with the team. All are unhappy with the Rangers start. All are trying to find a way to make it better. If major changes are imminent, nobody is conveying that impression. "You look at, position by position, how you're playing," Ryan said. "You look at obviously the pitching staff, the coaching staff, the manager -- you look at all aspects of our team. See if there's any area you think if you made adjustments would they have any impact. We have greater expectations then what we've seen so far." Ryan does not point a finger at Washington but also understands the manager is ultimately responsible to how the players react on the field. "Ron doesn't pitch, he doesn't hit and he doesn't field," Ryan said. "We do have to look at it from that perspective, but also are we doing the things we need to do to win ballgames? Are the guys responding to Ron? "I think the fans also have to understand we're not going to have a knee-jerk reaction, even though we got off to one of the worst starts in club history. I know how badly Ron feels, I know the coaches feel the same way; the players feel the same way. Jon and I feel the same way. We're all disappointed where we are." What Ryan and Daniels seem to be watching more than anything is how the Rangers respond to their poor start under Washington's leadership. There is patience over a slow start, but there is also a strong desire to see it get turned around as soon as possible. "I think you've got to realize that when a team performs as we did, everyone is concerned," Ryan said. "He knows that the fans and the media started looking toward the manager, and they want to see something that they think is an indication that the ship is being righted. "I think that falls under the responsibility of being the manager. Out of fairness to him, you not only see how the players respond to what's happened, but see how the staff responds too." One of Ryan's biggest concerns is fan reaction to the Rangers' poor start. The Rangers drew fewer than 20,000 on Friday night, and that's not likely to get much better if the team continues to struggle. "Obviously, you want to let your fans know that you're concerned with what you're seeing and that you're going to try to do what's realistic to change that," Ryan said. "But also I don't want, as I said before, to have a knee-jerk reaction and not make good decisions or [to make] decisions in hindsight that [weren't] the right approach. I think we look at where we are or what we are doing. "There haven't been any decisions made. I thought it was important to get the team home and see how they responded to what's happened. I think it says something about the makeup of your ballclub how they respond to adversity like that. In the big picture, that's beneficial."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.