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Jim Leyland considers Wash 'my friend'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been around the big leagues a long time and he credits the turnaround of the Texas Rangers franchise to the club's skipper.

"Ron Washington is tremendous. He is a motivational guy. He knows what it's all about," Leyland before Game 1 of the ALCS. "In my opinion, Ron Washington is the guy that changed things around down here. I may be all wet because I don't know what goes on here, but I know him and he's all about doing things right. He's about winning. He's about holding people accountable. He's been unbelievable. He's done a fantastic job."

When Leyland managed the AL All-Star team in 2007 -- the year after he guided Detroit to the World Series, only to lose the Cardinals -- Leyland picked the rookie manager having a tough first season in Texas to be on his coaching staff.

"Ron is a friend of mine. I took him as my coach when I managed the All-Star Game a few years ago," Leyland said. "He was my first selection. I thought it would be a good experience for him. I thought he deserved it and I thought it would be good for him to be involved in something like that, and I don't think he ever forgot that.

"We're friends. We're not enemies tonight. We're friends that are managing against each other."

When Washington earned the right to coach this season's AL All-Stars, he followed the lead of Leyland and selected Toronto rookie manager John Farrell and Cleveland’s second-year manager Manny Acta.

"Jim Leyland led me down this path,” Washington said at the time. “When he told me he wanted me on his staff, he told me he always tried to get first-year managers because you never know if you are ever going to get back. I always remembered that."