Ron Washington wants aggressive AL team

PHOENIX -- American League manager Ron Washington made sure to talk to his squad prior to Monday's workouts and stressed having fun, but also playing a smart, aggressive baseball game. In other words: business as usual for Washington.

That's how Washington has managed the Rangers for 4 1/2 seasons now. He keeps things loose, supports his team, but stresses doing the little things to win games. The past two seasons in particular, the Rangers have improved on moving runners over, taking the extra base on balls in the dirt and having productive outs. Washington wants the same thing from his AL squad in tonight's All-Star Game.

"I want them reading balls in the dirt," Washington said. "I want them going from first to third. They can steal bags -- if they get an opportunity, take it. The way I put it in a nutshell was: 'Play the game of baseball unrestricted.'"

Washington said he has a bunch of run producers, so he'll just "stand out of the way and watch them score runs." And, of course, he wants to win.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Washington said. “Anytime you compete, that’s what it’s about: winning. I want them to understand that it’s about homefield advantage and one of their teams is going to the World Series.”

Washington said Monday was a normal day for him. He threw batting practice during the workouts as he always does and walked around talking to players.

Washington talked just after Monday's workout about some of his plans for the game and his interaction with some players. Here are some of those notes:

* Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson and first base coach Gary Pettis will coach at their respective spots. Washington said Manny Acta will help him and Jackie Moore on the bench and John Farrell will help Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins and pitching coach Mike Maddux handle the pitchers.

* Michael Young is the designated utility player for the American League, which means Washington can bring Young back in the game if needed. Pablo Sandoval is the National League's utility player. Young said he's ready to play any position Washington needs.

* The AL won't use signs -- it will be up to players when they think they can steal. But when the time calls for a bunt, Washington will use signs to tell Anderson, and Anderson will talk to the hitter.

* The pitchers will mostly get one inning, though Washington said he's got some guys that can go longer than that if needed. He expects Alexi Ogando to get in the game later because he has other pitchers he knows he has to get in first. That means Ogando might be working closer to his 2010 role than his 2011 one.

* Washington got a chance to talk to some of the young players like Michael Pineda and Chris Perez. He said they were “wide-eyed” and excited to be here.

* Washington asked Justin Verlander if he thought he could sneak him in the game without Detroit noticing. Verlander laughed. But the Tigers’ ace, who started Sunday so isn't eligible for the game, did thank Washington for getting Jhonny Peralta on the team. “That’s amazing,” Washington said. “That’s a class act for him to take up for his teammate like that.”