|Washington returns to Oakland for first time as Texas skipper|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 28 May 2007 20:15|
It had been a typo in a spring training piece: Rob Washington. The Athletics' grounds crew had a little fun Monday welcoming back Oakland's former third-base coach, still beloved in the Bay Area even now that he's the Texas Rangers' first-year manager.
Head groundskeeper, Clay Wood, left the picture with a ``Welcome Back, Rob!'' message written on it.
``Cheap frame,'' Washington said with a grin. ``Make sure you mention the cheap frame.''
Washington was happy to be back in the stadium where he has more than a decade of fond memories. But the Rangers still lost their sixth straight game, falling 5-3 to the A's.
``The weather's beautiful here. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I know it'll be cold tonight,'' Washington said in the dugout while his team began batting practice before opening a three-game series. ``So you know you're back in Oakland.''
Washington, who visited with A's manager Bob Geren for about 30 minutes as well as with some of his former players, kept Sammy Sosa out of the starting lineup. Sosa struck out as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth inning against Colby Lewis. Sosa remained stuck on 598 homers, two shy of becoming the fifth player ever to hit 600.
For Washington, a little socializing was OK, but he is focused on helping the Rangers get back to winning. They fell to 18-33 and are in last place in the AL West.
``Once the game starts, I'll be just like they are: wanting to win,'' Washington said. ``It'll just be another baseball game.''
Also back in uniform at the Coliseum for the first time was Art Howe, Washington's bench coach and the A's manager from 1996-2002.
Washington believes his team will make the necessary adjustments to have success, even if ``we're not performing up to capability.''
``No one likes to lose, but there's nothing I can do about it but keep trying to get them prepared and keep trying to put them in the right position,'' Washington said before the game. ``We may be 18-32 right now, but we'll turn this thing around at some point during the season. Where are we going to be when it's over, I don't know. But it certainly won't be this bad. That's a fact.''
The 55-year-old Washington was hired by the Rangers in November, signing a two-year contract to replace Buck Showalter after 11 seasons on the Oakland staff - 10 spent as third-base coach developing players such as Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Mark Ellis and Bobby Crosby.
``I just miss the guys,'' he said. ``It's a great bunch of guys. I miss the fun they have with each other. It's a great atmosphere here.''
Washington had longed to be a manager for years and finally got his chance. He knew there would be challenges in his first season, and he insists he is far from giving up on this team.
``I have said that I have been there before. People can count us out but as long as we in this clubhouse know how we feel about what we're trying to accomplish, we can finally get it done,'' he said. ``Until the schedule says we're eliminated, we're not eliminated. Every day I wake up, I feel like I've got an opportunity to do better. The morning I don't wake up, then I can't do any better.''
He's been through a lot in recent years, and is currently rebuilding a home in his native New Orleans that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.
``I've sat over there and watched people managed and I've been up here as a coach for 11 years. I never thought it was easy, but I know I can do it,'' he said. ``Everything that comes with it, you deal with it.''