02/26/12 4:45 PM EST
Washington, Young, Nathan address ballclub
Year ahead is main focus of annual meeting before workout
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
They were the three main speakers during the Rangers' annual team meeting held before the first workout on Sunday afternoon. Washington did talk briefly about last season and the Rangers' heart-breaking loss to the Cardinals in the World Series.
But most of what he said was directed toward the Rangers getting ready for the 2012 season.
"It was just about our young pitchers getting better and taking the next step," Washington said. "It was about our offense staying healthy. It was about tightening up the fundamental part of the game.
"Enjoy yourself and have fun. We are the champions of the American League. Let's go play baseball, take care of business and be ready on April 6. Be the best team we can be every day, and the rest will take care of itself."
Washington declined to elaborate on what was said about last year's World Series.
"That part we will leave in the clubhouse," Washington said. "We're a quality team. We just need to take care of business and be the best team we can be every day, and everything else will take care of itself."
"We're going to be fine," outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "We've had enough time to get over that. Nobody is thinking about that, we're thinking about getting back to the playoffs and going all the way. We're good enough to do that."
Young spoke after Washington. Then, the manager called upon Nathan, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason.
"He's a winner, and we're about winning," Washington said. "We brought another winner into the clubhouse. I wanted people to know what he thinks. He's a veteran pitcher who has been [in] winning situations. He carries himself professionally. I want that to resonate."
Said Young, "It just goes to show how much respect Joe carries in this game. Joe has earned that. He had a great career in Minnesota; he's a great competitor, and most of all he's a great teammate. He'll fit right in with this group."
Nathan was a four-time All-Star closer for the Twins before signing a two-year deal with the Rangers at the end of November to be their closer.
"When [Washington] kind of called me out a little bit, I just talked about what it looked like from the outside in," Nathan said. "For me, watching that, they were the better team. What happened is baseball. Stuff happens in this game that sometimes is unexplainable. That doesn't mean they weren't the better team. I told them how I excited I am to be here, and they have nothing to be ashamed about.
"From what I've seen from these guys, I don't think anyone's worried about last year. I don't think anybody's hanging their head about last year. I don't think there's any reason to hang their head. There's a lot to be proud of. It's tough, but there's a lot to be excited about where this team is."
The last time Washington spoke to his team was before Game 7 of the World Series. That conversation was taped, leaked to somebody outside the clubhouse, and ended up going viral on the Internet.
"My first thought was privacy had been breached," Washington said. "But I guess folks got an opportunity to hear things that go on behind closed doors. I don't take back anything I said. After that, it didn't bother me."
The released tape showed how passionate Washington can be when talking with his players. He admitted he got on a roll while he was talking to them on Sunday.
"I'm always on a roll when I talk to my team," Washington said. "I want it to resonate with my team because I'm so passionate about the game."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.