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Thursday, November 8, 2012
Derek Holland seeks, gets Nolan Ryan's advice

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- After a season that didn’t go as well as he would have liked, Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland asked one of his bosses -- and Hall of Famer -- Nolan Ryan to meet with him for an evaluation session.

Holland and Ryan met on Wednesday morning, where Holland wanted to hear Ryan’s thoughts about the season and how Holland could improve.

“I wanted to know from him personally what he saw that he thought I needed improve on,” Holland said.

Ryan told him he needed to work on his consistency with location.

“He said I’ve got to stay focused out there and not do too much to over-think things,” Holland said. “Just go out there and grind it out. He agreed with me on working on location, which is something I asked him about. The only time I got beat was missing spots. And if I got beat, too, it would be a home run. I gave up too many. It’s not that I was trying to pitch like I did in the minor leagues where I could blow a fastball by you anywhere and not have to worry about location, it was that I missed spots.”

Ryan gave Holland some drills to work on over the offseason to help him find that consistency in location.

“I’m excited about that,” Holland said. “I can’t wait to start. I’ll start those drills right after Thanksgiving and get into my throwing program in mid-December.”

Holland, who ended the 2011 season on a high with a terrific pitching performance in Game 4 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a five-year contract worth $28.5 million guaranteed in the spring (the deal has two club options that could make it a seven-year term). But he wasn’t able to use the 2011 campaign as a springboard. Holland was sick for a little while and then dealt with left shoulder fatigue, missing a month. He was 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA in 29 games (27 starts), pitching 175 1/3 innings in 2012.

“I felt like I rushed myself trying to jump back into the swing of things and trying to step back in and be dominant when I had to be myself and not overdo everything,” Holland said. “I was trying to step in for Colby (Lewis) and Neftali (Feliz). But I needed to do my basic stuff, win my games and stay within myself.”