A Few Minutes with Showalter

With the Rangers in Baltimore for a four game set, I had an opportunity to ask Ranger manager Buck Showalter a few questions.  While he has a reputation for being regimented and punctillious, he can be surprisingly relaxed, loquacious, even humorous.  There's no question that his team has a strict schedule on game day, but the Ranger players are more bothered by security procedures at the ballpark than they are with Buck's disciplined leadership.  

What is the biggest change since you were managing in Arizona?

The biggest change for me in our game is the continued decline of foul ground.  If you're a hitter and looking at playing the Mets, and them taking away another 5-6 feet in foul ground for a few more rows of seats... Orel [Hershiser, Rangers pitching coach] was talking about one of the biggest differences for him and all these new stadiums is just that the foul ground is going away.  

What's your philosophy on pitch counts?  Especially for young pitchers like Benoit and Lewis.

I try to be protective.  A lot of it has to do with how stressful their outing is going.  I think you kind of have to watch the flow of the game.    Obviously, for a young pitcher, you have to monitor innings compared to where they've been in a career. You take a young pitcher like a Kerry Wood and go from throwing 100 innings or whatever and all of a sudden jumping up to 200 plus, you're asking for trouble.  You may not know it, you may not realize it until the following year.  Especially with some of the Latin kids who pitch a lot winter ball.  But pitch counts - sometimes I think they can be used as a crutch.  We look at whether a guy is gonna have an extra day next time out whether we can extend him a little bit. (editor's note: only Ryan Drese has thrown more than 120 pitches in an outing this season, and neither Benoit or Lewis has thrown more than 110 pitches in any start)

I don't think there's any one set "this is the way" to do it.  Every pitcher is a little bit different.  I mean if I took Randy Johnson out every time he hit 100 pitches... one, it wouldn't be a whole lot of fun doing it, I can tell you that.  Of course Randy is a little different than any guy I ever met.  You throw out all rules of thumb so to speak about handling starting pitching with him.  He was not a freak of nature; he was just different than anybody.  He was just warming up at around 115.  It's just an indication of just how strong he is.  There are rules for everybody and Randy's were a little different.

Is the whole idea of playing Teixeira in the outfield preparing for the National League?

Some of it.  It's one of the factors.  We've talked about it.

Any reaction to pitchers working Teixeira a little more aggressivly inside?  Knocking him down?

I think it's a good experience for him.  There are about 5 guys in the league that are gonna do that.  It brought back a lot of memories yesterday of Travis Lee.  They really stuck it to that poor kid.  But that's the kind of thing that could put me over the edge if they keep picking on him, though.  

How much input have you had in the upcoming amateur draft?

None.  And that's the way I like it.  And I won't afterwards either.  I've been in those rooms and it's a lot of fun... now.  When you take them, and I mean the signability thing is such a.. y'know a guy may fall just because of signability.  There are so many factors that people don't realize that figure in the process of picking players.  It's not a pure "who's the best".  It's tough.  Scouting directors have a tough job.

Anybody's who's got it figured out that there one way to do it all the time, you tell me... you figure out what 17- or 18-year old guys are gonna do, let me in on it.  Harold Reynolds had a great line.  We were doing a pre-game for the College World Series and they were trying to get us to do predictions on the air and it came to Harold and he said, "you think I'm gonna predict what 17- or 18- year old kids in Omaha are gonna do and who's gonna win... well, it ain't me."  Georgia Tech went down [referring to their second loss in the regional seminfinals in this year's College World Series playoffs]  They're gone.  That's the highest seed gone.

Is Teixera taking that one hard?

Well, I don't know.  (smiling)  Maybe I shouldn't play him tonight.