Rangers focus on unity in team meeting

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Texas manager Ron Washington sent his team off to its first full-squad workout Saturday with a simple message.

“It was just about us being together, caring about each other, playing for one another and staying healthy,” Washington said of the meeting which lasted less than 30 minutes. “The messages in years past were messages I felt I needed to send just as the one today about us today making sure we take care of each other. I didn’t think it was any different.”

Unlike last year’s team meeting, there was no talk of forgetting about a crushing World Series loss. But Washington did emphasize to his team the importance of getting over an end to the 2012 season that saw the Rangers lose the division to Oakland and a one-game playoff to Baltimore.

“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to,” said Washington. “We didn’t meet the expectations we set out to meet. The thing about baseball is when you start a new year everybody has a chance and we have a chance.”

Washington asked a handful of veterans to speak to the team, including newcomers A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman as well as hitting coach Dave Magadan. The common theme from those players was the same thing Washington stressed – taking care of one another.

Outfielder Nelson Cruz, who is embroiled in the Miami performance-enhancing drug story, also spoke to the team. Washington said his message to his teammates was short.

“I believe,” Washington said was Cruz’s lone statement.

Washington also made it clear that the Rangers would get back to being the aggressive kind of team they had been in 2010 and 2011 on the basepaths. The club got away from that last season.

“The handcuffs are off,” he said. “The ankle chains are off. Let’s see what you can do.”