Texas Rangers: Joe Maddon

Buzz: Derek Holland has changeup back

April, 9, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland has his changeup back to where it was when he was in the minor leagues, giving him an added weapon, he said Tuesday.

Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Richard Durrett and Tim MacMahon to discuss the first week of the season, if he feels guilty when his team catches a break from the umpires, Elvis Andrus and much more.

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"I had lost my feel for it," Holland said.

Holland used his changeup 14 times in Friday's 3-2 win over the Angels -- he got a no-decision -- all of them against right-handed hitters. He threw it to get outs against Mark Trumbo and Howard Kendrick early in the game.

Holland got a double-play ball from the Angels hitter who has given him the most grief, third baseman Alberto Callaspo, in the seventh inning to keep the Rangers within 2-1 of the Angels. Adrian Beltre hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score.

Holland wanted to make sure he has the pitch in his arsenal, so he worked on it in spring training. He said Tuesday that this is the best he's thrown his changeup since 2010 when he was pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was called up later in the year by the Rangers.

Holland will start Wednesday afternoon's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Darvish improving: While Matt Harrison is ailing, Rangers starter Yu Darvish's blister on his right ring finger is improving. The Rangers expect Darvish to make Friday's start in Seattle.

"His finger is progressing very nicely," manager Ron Washington said.

Faith in Martin: The Rangers didn't designate Julio Borbon for assignment to send center fielder Leonys Martin a message that they have faith in him. The move had to be made.

But Martin, who has started four games and has one hit in 13 at-bats, did get a vote of confidence Tuesday from general manager Jon Daniels. Martin was back in the starting lineup Tuesday.

"He earned a spot on this team," Daniels said. "We're not going to reverse course a week or 10 days into the season. We believe in him."

Nathan gets Rays' lineup card: Rays manager Joe Maddon sent over his lineup card from Monday's game and signed it for Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who picked up his 300th save. Maddon wrote the message: “Congrats. Outstanding career. Keep it going.” Nathan said he would seek Maddon out on the field during batting practice and thank him.

News from Surprise: The Rangers had several rehabbing pitchers put in work Tuesday at extended spring training in Surprise, Ariz. Reliever Joakim Soria threw 28 pitches in a bullpen session, and Colby Lewis threw 26 pitches. RHP Neftali Feliz is scheduled to throw a bullpen Thursday after throwing on flat ground from 90 feet on Tuesday.

Nathan gets 300th save on disputed strikeout

April, 8, 2013
Joe Nathan didn't envision his 300th save coming exactly like it did Monday night with the Rays' Ben Zobrist being called out on strikes with a full count on a curveball that was several inches low and off the plate.

Richard Durrett and Tim MacMahon discuss Monday's controversial ending to the Rangers' win over the Rays and play the audio from various broadcasts.

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In fact, when plate umpire Marty Foster punched out Zobrist, a lip reader could make out Nathan say, "Wow." Is that what he in fact said?

"Yeah, wow," said Nathan, who became the 24th major league pitcher to reach the milestone.

Was the wow for 300?

"Sure," Nathan said, laughing.

Nathan, like everyone from Zobrist to Rays manager Joe Maddon (who lost it on the field after the game) to the fans watching on Fox Sports Southwest, was shocked Zobrist wasn't making his way down to first base with Evan Longoria set to come up with the tying run on second base in Sean Rodriguez.

"Did I draw it up like this for my 300th? No," Nathan said. "Like I said, we'll take it.

"I thought it was ball four," Nathan said. "The 'wow' was meant more to, 'Let's concentrate on what we have to do with Longoria now.'"

Foster admitted after the game to pool reporter Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he made a mistake.

"I saw the pitch and of course I don't have the chance to do it again," Foster said. "But had I had a chance to do it again I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."

Maddon, who argued the call for several seconds after the game, said it was difficult to have the game stolen from his team.

"That was very difficult," Maddon said. "My only comment, my only thought is that cannot happen in a Major League Baseball game. That cannot occur."

Nathan has a history against Zobrist, one the Rays second baseman has dominated. Zobrist had four hits in five at-bats against Nathan going into the ninth-inning matchup, two of them for home runs.

"I was trying to be careful with him even though another good hitter, Longoria, was hitting behind him," Nathan said. "Zobrist has had his history with me so I knew to be careful with him. Fortunately I got a decent call there at the end."

Nathan said he threw the pitch where he wanted it, away from the left-handed hitting Zobrist, hoping he would chase it.

"I threw a pitch where I wanted to; he just didn't offer," Nathan said.

Nathan got the fortunate call, and he joins Bruce Sutter and Jason Isringhausen with 300 career saves, tied for 22nd all-time. The Rangers also won a one-run game to move to 5-2 on the season.

"Tough, tough game," Nathan said. "Every time I get in against the Rays, it just seems like they have a lot of guys that have given me good at-bats. Today was no different."

Ron Washington finishes third in voting

November, 16, 2011
To no suprise, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon ran away with the American League Manager of the Year award announced Wednesday.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington finished third in the voting. Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland finished second. Washington's club beat the Rays in the AL division series and then the Tigers to capture their second consecutive AL pennant. Washington got one first-place vote, seven seconds and five thirds.

Maddon, who received 26 first-place votes and one second, oversaw the the Rays remarkable rally from a nine-game deficit in the wild-card standings on Sept. 3 to squeeze past the Boston Red Sox on the final game of the regular season. It was the low-payroll Rays’ third playoff appearance in four seasons.

Kirk Gibson, the rookie manager who led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League West title won the award in the other league.

Here's the final tally (first-place votes-second-third-total)as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America:

American League
Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays (26-1-0--133)
Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers (1-13-10--54)
Ron Washington, Texas Rangers (1-7-5--31)
Manny Acta, Cleveland Indians (0-3-7--16)
Joe Girardi, New York Yankees (0-3-5--14)
Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels (0-1-1--4)

National League
Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks (28-4-0--152)
Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers (3-25-2--92)
Tony La Russa, St. Louis Cardinals (1-2-13--24)
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies (0-1-7--10)
Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves (0-0-4--4)
Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants (0-0-2--2)
Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0-2--2)
Terry Collins, New York Mets (0-0-1--1)
Don Mattingly, L.A. Dodgers (0-0-1--1)

Ron Washington in the mix for AL honor

November, 16, 2011
Quick, who won last year's Manager of the Year awards?

Exactly. Not the most interesting of the postseason awards. But here's a quick preview of the award that usually goes to the manager whose team surprised the most.

American League

Joe Maddon, Rays: The odds-on favorite to win his second award, following Tampa Bay's miracle playoff run in September. Positives: Kept team positive after 0-6 start, Evan Longoria's April injury and Manny Ramirez's drug test/retirement; overcame two shortstops who hit under .200; mixed and matched guys like Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez for maximum producitivity; rebuilt bullpen thrived; sent up Dan Johnson to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of game No. 162. Negatives: Was that a mullet?

Ron Washington, Rangers: Remember, postseason performance doesn't come into play. Positives: Moved Alexi Ogando to the rotation; got a big year out of Michael Young by moving him around the DH role and the infield; let Mike Napoli eventually take over as the regular catcher. Negatives: Remember, postseason performance doesn't come into play.

Jim Leyland, Tigers: A two-time winner with the Pirates and once with the Tigers, Leyland could be the first manager to win the award four times (the award began in 1983). Positives: Gave the ball to Justin Verlander and stayed out of the way. Negatives: Poor lineup construction.

Manny Acta, Indians: The Indians ended up at 80-82, but it was a positive season as they remained in the playoff race much of the season. Positives: Hung in there despite injuries to Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo; worked in young players like Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall; adeptly handled no-name bullpen to a nice season. Negatives: Couldn't straighten out Fausto Carmona; stuck with Orlando Cabrera way too long in No. 2 hole.

SweetSpot network voting
Joe Maddon: 114 points (21 first-place votes)
Jim Leyland: 32 points
Ron Washington: 28 points (1)
Manny Acta: 20 points (1)
Joe Girardi: 20 points (1)
Terry Francona: 1 point
Mike Scioscia: 1 point

My ballot
1. Joe Maddon
2. Manny Acta
3. Ron Washington

Rangers take lead on Mike Napoli's double

October, 24, 2011

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Year of the Napoli, as Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon called it, keeps on rolling.

Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli delivered a two-run, go-ahead double in the bottom of the eight inning.

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa opted to leave left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski in to face Napoli, whom the Rangers acquired for reliever Frankie Francisco in an under-the-radar offseason deal because of his success against southpaws. Napoli drove a 1-1 slider into the right-center gap to give the Rangers their first lead of the night, scoring Michael Young and Nelson Cruz.

Rangers 4, Cardinals 2 after eight innings.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Rangers acquired Mike Gonzalez from Baltimore after the trade deadline just in case they needed a situational lefty to get one batter in a crucial playoff game.

As an added bonus, the Rangers liked Gonzalez because he pitched in the AL East, meaning he would be especially familiar with the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays.

Gonzalez did his job perfectly Monday in Game 3 of the ALDS.

With runners on first and second and one out, Ron Washington brought Gonzalez in to face left-handed Johnny Damon, one of the game's best clutch hitters.

Gonzalez blew him away, striking him out on three pitches. Damon slammed his bat to the ground as he returned to the dugout.

"Gonzalez did a great job taking care of Johnny Damon," Washington said. "Once he got rid of him on three pitches, then we could give the ball to Nefty."

While Gonzalez excelled, much of the Rangers' bullpen struggled. Washington used five pitchers, who combined to throw 74 pitches, to record the final six outs.

Mike Adams threw 26 pitches, which could make him less effective if the Rangers need him to pitch the eighth inning today, and the same goes for Neftali Feliz, who threw 25 pitches in getting a four-out save.

"I kind of like that," Tampa manager Joe Maddon said of Feliz throwing 25 pitches. "That's the thing about a four-out save. If you can work through some at-bats and get the pitch count up - these closers aren't used to that."

The Rangers survived.

Now, the question is whether a win in Game 3 leaves them vulnerable in Game 4.

Game 3 postgame: Year of the Napoli

October, 3, 2011

Game 3 winner Colby Lewis of the Rangers details his pitch selection against the Rays, and Mike Napoli talks about his crazy year.

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Rangers manager Ron Washington talks about his decision to go with Neftali Feliz in the eighth inning of an intense Game 3.

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Rays manager Joe Maddon discusses the ALDS Game 3 loss to the Rangers and declares the "Year of the Napoli."

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Rays know they'll get C.J. Wilson's best

September, 29, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Evan Longoria, the hero of Tampa Bay's miraculous comeback Wednesday to get the Rays back into the postseason, knows one thing when it comes to Texas Rangers Game 1 starter C.J. Wilson.

"I want to figure out a way to not come into the locker room after the game and not talk about how good C.J. was," Longoria said late Thursday afternoon after the Rays arrived at Rangers Ballpark. "He's been a thorn in our side from last year all the way to this year. I don't know, maybe we have to go back and re-look at the film. I've looked at it enough to know what the back of his head looks like with my eyes closed.

"I don't know what it is, but there has to be something there and we have to figure it out sooner rather than later."

Wilson won Game 2 in last season's ALDS to give the Rangers a 2-0 series lead. He pitched a shutout through 6 1/3 innings, allowed two hits, two walks and struck out seven.

In three starts against the Rays this season, Wilson is 2-0, including a complete game, with a 2.08 ERA (five runs in 21 2/3 innings). He's allowed 10 hits and walks and struck out 24.

Wilson said even though it took about as long as it could to find out who he would throw against it won't affect his preparation.

"They are going to have the same lineups pretty much they had in the regular season against me," Wilson said. "So knowing that -- even though we found out at the last minute -- I have all my notes and video and that stuff to go through and I feel prepared."

Rays manager Joe Maddon acknowledged that he could make some adjustments to his lineup to face Wilson, a hard-throwing lefty who can throw varying speeds and to a variety of locations. He said he wasn't prepared to make any pronouncements before talking to his players. Maddon doesn't have much maneuverability in terms of right-handed bats he could throw into the lineup, so perhaps the Rays re-evaluate their approach against Wilson.

One left-handed batter who figures to remain in the lineup no matter what is Johnny Damon, who is just 2-for-11 for his career off Wilson.

"He's definitely matured in front of everybody's eyes. He was a very reliable reliever for years and took on the starting role. He's matured. He can sink the ball well, throws that cutter, has a nice curve ball and just his mound presence is just so much better now. That's that maturing process that pitcher's go through. he's learned how to pitch. He's not just a thrower any more, he's got a plan. And it helps being able to throw as hard as he does, too, from the left side."

Rays undecided on Game 1 starter

September, 29, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse attendants might have been packing things up for the winter just before being told to prepare for a celebration.

Rangers lefty Derek Holland dishes on the final night of the season, looks ahead to the Rays and more.

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The Rays rallied from a 7-0 hole late in their game against the Yankees on Wednesday and won in 12 innings to clinch the AL wild card. Manager Joe Maddon said his team was a fatigued one that boarded the plane Thursday and arrived at Rangers Ballpark around 4:30 p.m.

"It really draws a lot out of you," Maddon said of the emotional swings of this last month's surge that culminated with the extra-inning clincher.

He means the coaching staff, too. Maddon headed straight from the team bus to a news conference and said he still had yet to name a starting pitcher for Game 1.

"It's difficult to bring everything together from the conclusion of last night to this current moment," Maddon said. "We celebrated. As we should have. We had some benign conversations on how to shape the roster. We're not even there yet."

Maddon said James Shields, who beat the Rangers twice recently, is not being considered to start Game 1. Shields would be ready to pitch Game 2 and with two off days he could pitch Game 5, if one is necessary. The Rays' options for Game 1 would appear to start with big right-hander Jeff Niemann, right-hander Wade Davis or even lefty rookie Matt Moore, who has 9.1 innings of major-league service under his belt.

"He's in that conversation at this point," Maddon said of Moore, a highly touted prospect. "Several guys are in that situation."

Rays will have more seats for Game 5

October, 11, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tropicana Field may be even louder in Game 5 on Tuesday. The Rays have removed the tarps from the upper deck, allowing about 5,000 more fans to attend the game. Some of those seats are obstructed. Tickets went on sale today for those seats at $30 each.

"It's loud the way it is, that makes it even louder because those people are close to the roof," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Maddon joked that the Rays should give a discount to anyone wearing plaid, saying he wanted all 5,000 of those folks in the high seats to be wearing plaid.

The Rays removed the tarps for four postseason games in 2008 and have said they will be off for the rest of the playoffs should Tampa Bay advance.

Rangers-Rays Game 2 postgame audio

October, 7, 2010
Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson addresses the media following his Game 2 win over Tampa Bay.

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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza looks ahead to what he must do to help his team avoid elimination in Texas.

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Rangers third baseman Michael Young recounts the check-swing call that lead to his three-run blast in the fifth inning.

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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon addresses the media after getting tossed in his team's Game 2 loss against the Rangers.

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Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler talks about what went right for the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay.

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Rangers manager Ron Washington addresses the media following his team's Game 2 win over Tampa Bay.

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Rangers-Rays Game 1 postgame audio

October, 6, 2010
Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee talks about his Game 1 win over the Rays. Dan Shulman and Bobby Valentine recap the win and preview Game 2.

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Rangers manager Ron Washington addresses the media following his team's Game 1 win over Tampa Bay.

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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon addresses the media following his team's Game 1 loss against the Rangers.

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Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus addresses the media following Game 1 of the ALDS.

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New Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg talks to reporters after his team recorded its first playoff win since 1996.

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Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle addresses the media following the Game 1 win over Tampa Bay.

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Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur talks about what went right for the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay.

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Joe Maddon previews ALDS matchup

October, 5, 2010
Rays manager Joe Maddon talks about winning the AL East, looks ahead to Tampa Bay's division series matchup with Texas and describes his team's style of play.

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Experience matters, but how much?

October, 5, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 2008 World Series remains a very fresh memory for many of the Tampa Bay Raysand manager Joe Maddon said it even pushed his team this season after it got off to a sluggish start.

"Experience is always a good thing to have," Maddon said. "I just think with that experience our guys were more expecting this to happen."

It is true that few expected the Rangers to be here, gearing up for Wednesday afternoon's Game 1 of an American League Division Series.

But, here are they are and Rangers manager Ron Washington, a baseball lifer in his first postseason as a manager, stood firm in his conviction that his fresh-faced team would not be intimidated by the weight of the moment.

"Once we get out on the field, the first pitch is made, the first swing of the bat is made, the first defensive play is made, then it’s just baseball. That’s the message I’m sending. It’s just baseball once that happens," Washington said. "You play each day for what it is. You play each game according to what’s presented to you on that day and I think if you stay within those realms, things work out.

"Now," Washington continued, "there will be some anxious energy and that’s all it is. It won’t be because we’re afraid. It’s going to be who plays the best game on that day and that’s where our focus is."

It's not as though the Rangers are entirely playoff newbies. Game 1 starter Cliff Lee was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA through the World Series last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He holds the experience edge over Tampa's series-opening starter David Price. As a rookie, the 6-foot-6, hard-throwing lefty pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief in the Rays' 2008 run.

Vladimir Guerrero is making his sixth trip to the playoffs. Reliever Darren Oliver is also making his sixth trip and second with the Rangers (1996). Jeff Francoeur, who is expected to start in right field in Game 1, also has October experience.

"No doubt about it, they should set the tone, but each and every one of those other guys have a job to do also," Washington said. "But, I think if Cliff Lee goes out there and pitches a Cliff Lee-type game and Guerrero goes out and has a Guerrero-type game and Darren Oliver, who’s been in the playoffs, has a Darren Oliver-type game, then they'll put all those other guys in position to do it."

The atmosphere inside the Rangers' clubhouse prior to Monday's workout session had its trademark looseness. Catcher Matt Treanor, who is entering his first postseason and is could be behind the plate for Thursday's Game 2, said the only difference he could discern between the regular season and preparing for the postseason had nothing to do with the team or its nerves, but simply the increased number of media in the clubhouse, which mostly came to gather around batting champ and AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton.

And that's the way Washington wants it -- business as usual -- from his young and inexperienced club.

"We're planning on keeping our routine the same," Washington said. "We’re not changing anything."

Cliff Lee's 0-3 mark vs. Rays isn't whole story

October, 4, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Texas Rangers ace Cliff Lee will take the mound Wednesday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series and attempt to do something he hasn't accomplished since Aug. 22, 2008: Beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

Not since Lee was a member of the Cleveland Indians and on his way to a 22-3 Cy Young season has the lefty topped the Rays. But, in typical Lee fashion, his three-game drought against Tampa, all coming this season and twice within 12 days in May with the Seattle Mariners, has been more about bad luck than bad pitching.

With the Rangers on Aug. 16, Lee pitched into the eighth inning with a 4-2 lead, having outlasted his Game 1 opponent, David Price, who had allowed two runs and struck out eight through six innings. But for Lee, the Rangers' defense failed him in the bottom of the eighth and Joaquin Arias was the goat, unable to snag a blooper into right that went for a double and he then made a poor decision to try for a difficult force at second instead of the sure out at first on a fielder's choice.

The inning stayed alive and Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist sent Lee to the showers with six earned runs on nine hits and 10 strikeouts. Arias was traded to the New York Mets for Jeff Francoeur two weeks later.

"A couple years ago, we beat Roy Halladay several times, too. To beat guys like Cliff Lee and Halladay, you have to pitch well yourself. You’re not going to go out there and just bludgeon them," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You got to go out there and pitch well and play defense well and play all the other small components of your game well to beat these guys. If you look back, that's pretty much what had happened."

In his second against Tampa with Seattle on May 16, Lee pitched an eight-inning complete game and lost, 2-1, in a duel with Matt Garza, who will start Game 3 in Arlington. On May 5, Tampa tagged Lee for four earned runs on 10 hits in eight innings in an 8-3 loss that also came against Garza, who that day gave up just two runs in eight innings.

In those three starts, Lee has received eight runs of support. Meanwhile, in 23.2 innings pitched against the Rays, Lee has surrendered 12 earned runs on 24 hits with 25 strikeouts and two walks.

"To beat a Cliff Lee, it’s got to be a complete game," Maddon said. "It’s not just about your offense."



Adrian Beltre
.323 17 69 68
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 69
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .874
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182