Wilson's only concern about future is clinching
Rangers left-hander ignoring talk about impending free agency
DETROIT -- C.J. Wilson doesn't know where he'll be pitching next year, but the Rangers' ace knows he'll be right where he wants to be on Thursday afternoon. Weather permitting, of course.
Wilson, an impending free agent, has plenty on his mind before he gets down to the business of his next contract. There's that little thing about trying to get his Rangers back to the World Series, for instance, an opportunity that will be fully in his hands when he takes the mound at Comerica Park for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at 3:19 p.m. CT.
Because the Rangers took a 3-1 series lead with Wednesday's 7-3 victory in 11 innings, there's the challenge of going toe to toe with Tigers ace Justin Verlander with a chance to end the ALCS before the two teams would have to return to Arlington.
And, yeah, there's the rain, that pesky little problem that short-circuited Wilson's first start in Game 1 of the ALCS and left him with a 4 2/3-inning no-decision in the Rangers' eventual 3-2 victory.
- 2011 Regular Season
- Overall: 34 GS, 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 74 BB, 206 K.
- Overall: 34 GS, 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 57 BB, 250 K.
- Key stat: 3.0 BB/9 IP, down 1.1 from last year.
- Key stat: 264 innings so far this season, including playoffs.
- At Comerica Park
- 2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.40 ERA. Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 6.75 ERA.
- 2011: 16 GS, 10-3, 2.37 ERA. Career: 98 GS, 57-23, 3.24 ERA.
- Against this opponent
- 2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.40 ERA. Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 5.56 ERA.
- 2011: 1 GS, 0-1, 2.00 ERA. Career: 9 GS, 6-2, 3.60 ERA.
- Loves to face.: Jhonny Peralta, 2-for-16, 8 K. Hates to face: Ramon Santiago, 3-for-7, 1 2B.
- Loves to face: Ian Kinsler, 4-for-20, 5 K. Hates to face: Adrian Beltre, 10-for-34, 1 HR.
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: The Rangers won Game 1 with the same pitching matchup.
- Why he'll win: His 24 regular-season wins are the most since 2004.
- Pitcher beware: Has given up 13 hits and six walks in 9 2/3 playoff innings.
- Pitcher beware: Has allowed 13 earned runs in his past 20 innings.
- Bottom line: Step it up.
- Bottom line: Turn it around.
Given all that, how exactly is Wilson dealing with the situation of his expiring contract as he maneuvers through this postseason?
"By ignoring it," Wilson said on Wednesday prior to Game 4. "That's how I do it. People ask me, and I say the same thing. I'm in the playoffs. Where else would I rather be than [here] right now? This is the ultimate spot to be. We have a lead. Obviously, we're happy about that. We're in a good position.
"I'm in a good organization. I've worked my whole life to get to this point. So I'm not going to misappropriate any mental resources toward the future. The only future for me is tomorrow. That's the only thing I'm worried about right now."
Well, that and the rain, perhaps. The 30-year-old lefty knows he has even less control over that particular issue at the moment but does figure he learned some things from the stop-and-start situation of Saturday's series opener, which disrupted his rhythm and eventually forced his premature departure when the game was delayed twice in a difficult fifth inning.
With rain pushing back the start of Wednesday's game for two hours and 13 minutes and contributing to foreboding forecasts for Thursday, Wilson knows there's a chance for a similar scenario when he and Verlander line up again in Game 5.
"You know, there's nothing I can do about it," Wilson said. "The only thing I can do is if I get interrupted again, try to make a better adjustment. And I've got a little better plan for that, I guess, after having gone through it."
What exactly does he have in mind?
"I believe that would be none of your business," Wilson said. "I'm not going to talk about it now. There's no point of talking about it before it happens. I've talked to some people about it, and I have never gone through it before, really.
"So now that I've done it, I can say, 'I did this wrong, I did that wrong.' But I'm not going to sit here and dissect that before it happens or afterward. I have to keep strategy close to my chest."
Wilson has no doubt that Mother Nature changed the course of his first duel with Verlander, who was himself pulled after four innings. Wilson still wound up throwing 96 pitches, in part because his loss of control ran his pitch count up quickly in the fifth. He's not eager for a rerun of that situation.
"The weather could play a factor again," Wilson said. "We hope it doesn't. I don't think any of the fans want to sit around in the rain. I don't think any of the people at home want to watch that many more commercials. I think they want to watch a lot of good baseball."
Rangers fans would obviously love to watch a lot more of Wilson as well. Since being converted from a reliever to a starter last season, he's gone 31-20 with a 3.57 ERA and elevated to No. 1 starter status.
Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan knows the competition will be stiff to re-sign Wilson, but he'll deal with that when the time comes.
"When you talk about free agents and you talk about a left-handed premier pitcher like C.J., you don't know who's going to get involved," Ryan said on Tuesday. "You don't know what level it's going to go to. You don't know what C.J.'s desires are.
"We don't believe in negotiating during the season, so we have put that on hold until after we're through playing, and we'll start talking to C.J. and his agent and see where they are and what their thoughts are."
As for Wilson's thoughts on a long-term future in Texas, he stuck to his short-term outlook. The Rangers are gunning for a return to the World Series. His focus is on the task at hand.
"I'm here right now," Wilson said. "So that's the focus. I'm wearing a Texas Rangers uniform. I'm not concerning myself with any other organizations at this point.
"I'm a baseball fan. So obviously, I pay attention to everything that's going on. I'm on the websites. I read stuff every once in a while about what's going on in baseball, other organizations. I try to keep abreast of it because it's my industry, just like I would car racing and photography, or whatever else.
"You know, the fact that this organization I think is going in a good direction, obviously, I think is a very good thing for everybody."