NASHVILLE - With the untimely demise of Casey Stengel, Ron Washington became Major League Baseball's most quotable manager. Which was really something, since Washington was, at the time, a 23-year-old farmhand in the Dodgers' system.
He's just that quotable.
Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, Washington spent 30 minutes answering questions from a gaggle of media types. Here are just a few highlights, beginning with my favorites ...
On the Rangers' (apparently) sometimes over-aggressive baserunning last season: "Hopefully we can corral our erraticness. We will still run the bases with reckless abandonment ... That's the way we do it in Texas."
On whether Ian Kinsler is capable of being converted to first base: "I think Ian Kinsler is an athlete that can be converted into anything."
In response to one query, Washington replied, "I'm a fundamentalist." Which I believe means that he, unlike every other manager in baseball around the globe, values the fundamentals.
When asked if his Rangers got tight down the stretch, Washington said, "We never got tight. We got into the West, and it's pitching-rich. It's the old saying: Pitching stops everything else."*
* I've never heard that saying, but Washington's older than I.
With free-agent Josh Hamilton probably leaving the Rangers, Washington got a few questions about the club's prospective outfield. While he dismissed the idea of any of his star infielders becoming outfielders, he did say, "We know Mitch Moreland can play the outfield. We know Olt can play the outfield."
Leaving aside those notables, the Rangers' only outfielders are David Murphy, Craig Gentry, Nelson Cruz, Leonys Martin, and Julio Borbon. When asked if if those five were enough, Washington said, "Yes, I do feel like that will get the job done."
A Japanese reporter asked Washington about Yu Darvish's season, and he said, "I think he figured out how to be Yu Darvish." When I followed up, wondering how that actually showed up on the field, Washington replied, "He found out how good his fastball was." Which always did seem, to me, like the key to Darvish's season. He wasn't as good as I thought he would be. But he might be that good next year.