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04/06/09 3:15 PM ET

Hicks confident as season opens

Rangers owner believes team will be better, pitching key

ARLINGTON -- Tom Hicks hosted an Opening Day Eve family dinner at his home in Dallas on Sunday night. His sons Tom Jr. and Alex were among those present and, naturally, the talk turned to baseball and the Rangers.

"It's the best day of the year," Hicks said. "I get more excited about Opening Day than I do about Christmas.

"I had an Opening Day dinner, and we had a lot of fun talking about what might happen this year. Alex, Tommy and I were thinking maybe north of 90 wins. But obviously everything has to go right for that to happen. It's all about pitching. "

Hicks spoke Monday morning while watching the Rangers take batting practice before their home opener against the Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He was getting ready for a sellout crowd at the ballpark and the arrival for former President George W. Bush, who accepted Hicks' invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Other special guests included Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Gen. Jeffery Hammond of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood; 1st Sgt. David McNerney of Houston, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam; and Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, winner of the Navy Cross for heroism in Afghanistan.

"It's going to be a good day for the Texas Rangers and baseball," Hicks said.

"In our division, obviously the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been there the last five years," Hicks said. "Until somebody beats them, they're going to always be there. But they're not going to be as good as they were last year when they ran away with it [with 100 wins], and we'll be better.

"It's going to come down to pitching."

In that regard, Hicks has put his trust in club president Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer who has spent the last year overhauling the Rangers' pitching program.

"Nolan has all these pitchers in a new frame of mind," Hicks said. "They're more competitive and they are more confident. Now they've got to do it."

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