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Buzz: Wide-ranging talk with Ryan

HOUSTON -- Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan touched on a number of subjects during a pregame dugout sit down with the media, including his status with the club, manager Ron Washington and new pitcher Matt Garza.

Ryan, who nearly left the Rangers during spring training over a dispute about a diminished role with the organization, said he's a good place now and looking ahead to the future.

"Things have settled down and I feel good about how the ballclub is going," Ryan said, "and our focus has been on this season, so I think that’s been good."

Ryan, 66, expects to be back next season, but did say he will have to look at things after the season, such as his health and other factors.

"Do I anticipate any changes? he said. "No."

He also said the Rangers don't plan on replacing the position of president of business operations, a title that Rick George held before leaving to become athletic director at the University of Colorado last month. George's promotion was part of what upset Ryan during the offseason.

"We're going to move forward with the existing executive team we have," Ryan said. "The best way to put it, it’s in mothballs," Ryan said of George's old position.

Ryan is focused on this season, which has the Rangers right in the thick of the playoff race. The Rangers have won 10 of their last 11 games to make up six games in the standings on the Oakland A's in the American League West. They had a chance to move into first place alone on Saturday night.

"This is an interesting ballclub," Ryan said. "About the time you think we're upside down, they come roaring back. We had a setback with the [Nelson Cruz] situation and we go out and get a quality bat with veteran experience. I feel really good where we are and what we've accomplished."

Ryan gave credit where it belongs to Washington, who has done perhaps his best managing job with the Rangers since being hired in 2007.

Washington has held the team together through all the injuries and has called two pivotal team meetings, the most recent one which sparked the Rangers' current 10-1 run heading into Saturday night.

"The thing I love most about Ron as a manager is he takes whatever ballclub you give him and makes the most of it," Ryan said. "He gets the players to believe in themselves and playing hard every day. I'm thrilled with the job Ron has done."

Ryan, who has made strong predictions about the Rangers' playoff possibilities in the past, didn't speak that boldly about the club on Saturday. But he is confident.

"I don't know if we're the frontrunners because you're always just one injury away," Ryan said. "We'd like to think we have the majority of our injuries behind us and can stay healthy down the stretch. But I feel better about our ballclub than I did a week ago or prior to getting Matt Garza."

The Rangers gave up a premium package to trade for Garza on July 22, one that included top prospects Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards. Garza has responded by winning two of his four starts for the Rangers, including Friday's 9-5 win over the Astros.

The Rangers also traded for outfielder Alex Rios on Friday to fill the void left by Cruz's suspension. Rios is also signed through 2014.

Garza, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, would seem to fit nicely into the Rangers' plans. But Ryan said it has yet to be determined what will happen with the 29-year-old right-hander beyond this season.

"It's hard to say," Ryan said. "You have to evaluate the ballclub and the market. It's hard for me to speculate at this point."

Berkman starts rehab: Lance Berkman was the designated hitter and batting third to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night.

Washington said there isn't a set number of games Berkman will play.

"We'll see how it goes and how he feels," Washington said. "He'll let us know."

Harrison to see doctor: Left-hander Matt Harrison, who left Friday's rehab start at Round Rock after 60 pitches, will be examined by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington on Monday. Harrison left the game with numbness in his left hand after throwing three pitches in the fourth inning. Harrison told the Rangers the symptoms were better later Friday night, but the Rangers won't have a further update until after Monday's exam.

Outfield alignment for lefties: Washington said that Leonys Martin will play center field and Craig Gentry will be in left field against left-handed starters on Sunday and probably Monday. Even though Gentry is considered the team's best center field.

Martin struggled in his five starts in left field, in particular getting good reads on line drives.

"If I was comfortable with Martin in left, Gentry would play center," Washington said. "I'm not going to find out if [Martin] can get comfortable in left field. He's already showed me he can't."

Butler goes down: Joey Butler was the odd man out with Rios arriving on Saturday. But that doesn't mean Butler, who went 2-for-2 with a crucial walk in his first major league start on Friday, didn't make a positive impression on the Rangers' manager.

"He handled himself well," Washington said. "He certainly helped us win a ballgame last night. It's another piece of the development system that they sent up here that did well."

Short hops: Reliever Neal Cotts picked up his first save as a Ranger on Friday night. His other career save came April 30, 2006 for the Chicago White Sox against the Angels. ... An error charged to third baseman Adrian Beltre on a ground ball hit by the Angels' Mark Trumbo on Monday was changed to hit by Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. ... Friday's eighth inning, the one that lasted an eternity, officially went on for 61 minutes.