Wash doesn't feel pressure to play prospects

Wash doesn't feel pressure to play prospects

Published Aug. 22, 2012 2:20 p.m. ET

For whatever reason, there's a segment of fans who seem more concerned about the 2015 Texas Rangers than what is happening this season. Even some of my colleagues in the media seem obsessed with trying to trade All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus to make room for one of the top prospects in baseball, Jurickson Profar.

There seems to be such a fascination with the unknown that it causes folks to lose sight of what's happening in the present. The Rangers will attempt to make their third consecutive trip to the World Series this postseason. And that's just one of the reasons manager Ron Washington doesn't feel a lick of pressure to find more playing time for Mike Olt or endorse the arrival of Profar.

General manager Jon Daniels and team president Nolan Ryan recently indicated the organization had discussed promoting Profar to the big-league club before the rosters expanded in September. But when Washington was asked about this on his weekly radio show with KESN-FM's "Ben and Skin," he acted as if someone had set off a stink bomb. He pointed to the fact that Profar was only playing high Class A ball last season and said he didn't know where all the talk was coming from.

"You have to look at what type of team we have," Washington told me following Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. "We're trying to win a championship. If we were 10 games out of first place, some of those guys would be getting to play more. But their time will come down the road."

Daniels talks about having to balance his current plan with a three-year plan. But managers don't have the luxury to look that far down the road. As stubborn as he may seem at times, Washington is going to stick with the players who have won for him and only integrate young players such as Olt if an injury occurs.

Washington seemed offended by the notion that some folks wanted him to bench Michael Young recently based on his lack of production. Young is having a terrible season by his standards, but the manager hasn't given a second thought to taking him out of the lineup to create more opportunities for Olt or Craig Gentry.

"Michael's had 11 years of greatness, and people think I'm all the sudden going to turn my back on him?" asked Washington. "In a clubhouse, there's a thing called loyalty. It might be different in a 9-to-5 job, but there is something called baseball loyalty that I honor. And the great thing about Michael is that if you didn't look at his numbers, you would never know he was having a down season. He's still helping his teammates the exact same as if he was putting up big numbers."

Washington has the earned the right to handle his clubhouse any way he sees fit. Is there some frustration in the front office that he hasn't found more playing time for Olt? Probably so, but Daniels has too much respect for Washington to try to pressure him in that regard.

Washington's own experiences as a journeyman player have had a profound effect on how he handled his clubhouse. Near the end of his playing career, Washington had just hit .327 for the Houston Astros' Triple-A team in Tucson, Ariz. Astros general manager Bob Watson called after the season and offered him a job as a player/coach. Washington lit into him over the phone and told him that he was outperforming all of the organization's young prospects. He was insulted that Watson wasn't rewarding his performance.

Washington told me that story Tuesday night as if it had just happened. And I can't help but think those types of slights, real or perceived, play a role in how loyal he is to his veteran players. Maybe at some point he'll have to make way for Profar. But it's not going to happen this season.

"He needs to be in Double-A leading that group of players," Washington said. "He's definitely a talent, but the only way he would be playing for us is if we were 10-15 games out."

Maybe at some point Washington's stubbornness will become an issue. But with the Rangers sitting 21 games above .500 and headed to the postseason for a third consecutive year, this is Washington's call to make.

He's earned that right by being the best manager in the history of the organization. And it's hard to blame him for taking that credibility for a spin.