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08/16/08 9:05 PM ET

Hicks says Ryan to be more involved

Rangers want pitchers stronger and better conditioned

ARLINGTON -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks said club president Nolan Ryan will become more involved with organization's pitching program during the offseason.

"Nolan told me that we're going to take a system-wide new approach to pitching in the offseason," Hicks said before Saturday's game with the Rays. "We're talking about training, development, conditioning. ... He doesn't believe in putting a limit of 100 pitches a game on pitchers. He wants our pitchers to be stronger and better conditioned throughout the system.

"Sounds like a good idea to me."

The Rangers went into Saturday's game with a 5.45 ERA, the highest in the Major Leagues, after allowing at least seven runs in each of their past seven games. Since the beginning of Spring Training, the Rangers have put 16 different pitchers on the disabled list.

"I think it's getting better," Hicks said. "We got decimated by injuries this year, hopefully that won't happen next year. Our young guys are gaining valuable experience. The team [Rays] we're playing this week is not a bad example. They had some young guys who struggled, and now they're doing pretty good."

Whatever the Rangers' pitching problems, Hicks made it clear that the team won't solve them by spending huge amounts of money in the offseason. Hicks said he is opposed to giving out big contracts to free-agent pitchers.

"It's the biggest gamble in sports," Hicks said. "We tried hard to get Barry Zito, and thank God the Giants outbid us. If Nolan and [general manager] Jon Daniels has one out there they feel is special, I'll listen, but I think it's foolish. It's the biggest high-risk and not necessarily high-reward contract. You're better off developing your own young pitchers or trading for young pitchers."

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