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11/18/11 4:46 PM EST
Washington draws positives out of Rangers' run
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington spent Thursday hanging out with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and his staff. Carlisle extended the invitation last month and Washington was eager to accept.
"He's a champion and you want to be around champions," Washington said.
Carlisle led the Mavericks to an NBA title last season. Washington has led the Rangers to two straight World Series, but they have lost both. They went down in five games to the Giants in 2010 and in seven games to the Cardinals this past season.
Washington's mission now is to not let this season's disappointment carry over into next year while finding a way to finish the job. Washington said Friday he won't let his team view what happened against the Cardinals as a negative.
"I don't think there is ever anything that you forget," Washington said. "I know in my heart we put ourselves in a great position. We just didn't get it done. That's the way baseball happens. You pick yourself up and get right back at it.
"That's the way this team has always done things. We've learned that just because things didn't go our way that particular day, you don't back down. We'll come back, pick ourselves up and move forward."
Game 6 remains most vivid in everybody's minds. The Rangers had a 7-5 lead in the ninth and a 9-7 lead in the 10th. In both innings they were one strike away from winning the game before the Cardinals rallied to tie the score. The Cardinals ended up winning in the 11th and won Game 7 as well.
"It was a new experience for every single guy," Washington said. "They had never been there before. We can build on that as a positive. We as the Texas Rangers can look on that as a positive. Because we didn't win the World Series, people will look on it as a negative. We're going to look upon that as a positive.
"For the group of guys I have in that clubhouse, playing in our second World Series can't be a negative. We know what we have to do to move in the right direction again."
Washington met with Carlisle on Thursday but hasn't yet had an extended meeting with general manager Jon Daniels to discuss what happens next. But he knows what the Rangers need to do this offseason to start getting ready for next season.
"I think we need to improve everything ... our bench, starting pitching and see if we can find something out there that fits ... and our bullpen," Washington said. "Every area we're going to see if we can improve."
The two biggest questions hanging over the Rangers this offseason are if they will be able to re-sign left-hander C.J. Wilson and if they'll move closer Neftali Feliz into the rotation. Wilson is being pursued by six to 10 other teams -- including the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees -- and will probably start visiting with clubs next week. The Rangers met with his agent, Bob Garber, this week in Milwaukee to reiterate their desire to sign him.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the American League -- of course we want him back," Washington said. "But he is in a position to go out and find if there is a better place and a better fit for him. We're in a process and we'll wait until it's over. But he has a choice and we feel the Texas Rangers are one of them."
If Wilson signs elsewhere, moving Feliz into the rotation remains a strong possibility although the Rangers are not close to making that decision. Much will depend on the offseason.
"It's certainly something that we'll talk about," Washington said. "We haven't had the opportunity to talk about it yet. It looked [last Spring Training] like he had the ability to do it. That's what he did before he became the closer. But until we move forward in the winter, I don't have a comment on that."
If the Rangers do move Feliz to the rotation, they would have to reinforce their bullpen and possibly add a closer unless they want to go with either Mike Adams or Mark Lowe. Either way, upgrading the bullpen will be a priority.
"We'll just have to wait and see what's available out there," Washington said. "I'm confident those who make those decisions will make sure we are protected."