Slump doesn't worry Ron Washington

Updated: September 18, 2013, 7:39 PM ET
By Todd Wills | ESPNDallas.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manager Ron Washington, whose Texas Rangers had lost seven games in a row before beating the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, isn't afraid that the slump will cost him his job.

"I'm not going to give that any legs," Washington said, regarding talk that he was looking over his shoulder. "Let the people who put that out there answer it. I never said one thing about fearing for my job.

"I'm steadfast in what my job is on this ballclub, and that's to be the best manager for this organization and back my players, back my coaches and back the organization. I want to be the best manager possible, and that hasn't changed."

General manager Jon Daniels supported Washington before Tuesday's game, calling the talk a "distraction."

"There is no substance to it; it's not something remotely being discussed," Daniels said of Washington possibly losing his job. "The bottom line is we need to go out and have a good at-bat, a good inning and a good game and get this turned around. Everything else is a distraction.

"The reality is we have a playoff spot as we sit here today. We haven't played that way, but there's not much more I can do and not much Ron can do. It's about the guys between the lines. Hopefully they are focused and get it done."

The Rangers had held no leads in any of the 63 innings during the losing streak before halting the skid with the 7-1 win over Tampa Bay. They pulled even with the Rays atop the American League wild-card race, a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Indians. Texas, which led the West by two games at the start of September, continues to trail the division-leading Oakland Athletics by 6½ games.

Earlier Tuesday, Washington offered a different assessment of his job status but said he hadn't had any conversations about it with the Rangers' front office.

"That decision, if it's made, it's out of my hands," he said during his weekly radio spot with "Fitzsimmons & Durrett" on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "And yes, I'm concerned about my job. Who wouldn't be? But I hope that I've gained credibility for what all we've accomplished in the past few years. I'm not a finger pointer. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone. We all have to take the blame for our collapse right now, if that's what you want to call it.

"I'm not calling it a collapse. I'm just calling it a slump. But there isn't anything I can do about that. I don't really think about that type of stuff. I know at some point in this game of baseball we all have to look for another job, but it isn't anything I'm concerned about."

Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said Monday on ESPN Dallas' "Galloway & Company" that he didn't think Washington should or would be fired at the end of the season.

"Ron is not the guy out there standing on the mound or in the batter's box or fielding a position," Ryan said. "Ron has done everything within his power to try to motivate his club, and I just think we have some people having subpar years, and we've had some injuries, and we ... brought a lot of young players into our organization that don't have a lot of experience."

Washington became the winningest manager in Rangers history in August, passing Bobby Valentine. Washington has 601 victories and has led the Rangers to three consecutive playoff appearances, including the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

But Washington has overseen two consecutive poor Septembers, including a 2-13 record this month. The Rangers blew a six-game division lead in nine games to close out 2012, losing the West on the final day of the regular season and then losing the wild-card game at home to the Baltimore Orioles.

"I look at it in the big picture," Washington said. "What we've done here since I've been here, that should mean something. If a blip at the end of the year makes people decide that Ron Washington isn't the guy for the job, there isn't anything I can do about that.

"We're all worried about our job. I'm no different. I'm concerned about my job. But the only thing I'm worried about now is getting back on track."

The latest stretch of poor play is even more bewildering than last season's because, before the first inning of Tuesday's win, the Rangers hadn't led since a 4-3 victory Sept. 8 over the Los Angeles Angels. Texas has lost four one-run games since then.

The Rangers hadn't homered during the stretch and the starting pitching slumped, going 1-12 with a 5.99 ERA in September.

Veterans such as 37-year-old Lance Berkman said after Monday's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay that he had never seen a stretch where a team trailed for a week.

Neither had Washington.

"I've never seen a stretch like this, especially with the quality of players you have," he said. "You figure that maybe a dunk base hit or something out of the ordinary would happen, but it just hasn't happened. We have to keep grinding and be able to make it happen. It's not going to happen because we want it to happen."

Washington was asked whether the Rangers are battling any demons from last year's collapse.

"Demons don't have anything to do with what's happening," Washington said. "What's happening is an anomaly. I've never seen this before in the history of the game. We can't score runs, we can't shut down innings. I've just never seen that before. The guys' hearts are in the right place. We just have to go out there and make something happen."

Washington believes in the team and expects the Rangers to turn it around in the final 12 games of the season.

"We're going to find a way to get out of it because Ron Washington isn't a loser and Ron Washington is not a quitter," Washington said. "Never has been and never will be."

Daniels said his expectation is that Washington would return.

"My full expectation is he'll be back," Daniels said. "My full expectation is I'll be back. Beyond that, we'll address everything in the offseason. I view Wash as a partner, and I fully expect the partnership to continue."

Todd Wills covers the Texas Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.

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