Skipper talks starting pitching, center field

Rangers manager Ron Washington visited with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Ben & Skin this morning while the boys are out in Surprise for spring training. Washington covered a variety of topics. Here are some of them:

On Yu Darvish: "His bread and butter is his fastball and he couldn’t command it [Tuesday], so he had to try to do other things to get outs. I was very pleased with what he did. Sometimes you have to deal with what you have when you go out there like he did yesterday. … It’s an experience and he’ll learn from it. We’re pleased he got out of it healthy."

"We had a pitch count and we certainly didn’t want him to go past it because our training was for 50 pitches. He went 12 over. When he got the ground-ball double play, that was his last hitter unless he got the ground-ball double play. … I wanted him to complete what he started and he did that."

"He’s come as advertised. He definitely has tremendous work ethic, he’s fit in well in the clubhouse, he doesn’t complain about anything we’re doing. If there’s anything he needs for us to do for him to help him become more comfortable, we’ve given him the opportunity to speak up. We want to know and we want him to speak up. He’s been great."

On Craig Gentry and what does the sprained wrist mean for CF: "Depends on how long he’s down. [Leonys Martin], this is the first spring we’ve had an opportunity to look at him and like what we see. [Julio] Borbon played winter ball the whole time and has done a good job, his thought processes are good and he’s been very good at the plate and on the base paths. We’ll continue to look at this and let it play out. If for some reason, neither one steps up, we know we’ve got Josh Hamilton."

On outfield alignment: "If the right-handed bat makes the team, when I put Josh in center, Murphy would be in left and if Josh is in left field, the righty will be in center. I will have to find at-bats for Murphy and I will always do that and will continue to do that because he’s a big part of our success. We’re very lucky and fortunate to have a David Murphy."

On Hamilton dropping some weight this offseason: "I hope it means he’s planning on putting together a full year of staying on the field. Maybe taking some of the weight off will take some of the shock off his body. Maybe taking some of the weight off will make him lighter on his feet. He’s already light on his feet. That’s something he wanted to do and he came in and did it and now it’s a matter of him locking in at the plate."

Washington added he’s not concerned about Hamilton’s slow spring so far, saying "they’ll be a pitcher that toes that rubber one game this spring where Josh will finally find it and he’ll get locked in.”

On Neftali Feliz: "He’s doing exactly what we want him to do. He’s moving the ball around, throwing inside, using his changeup and breaking ball. The arm strength will come each time he goes out there. Some balls that they have centered on him the first game, they might not be centered as much because of the velocity. He’s learning, he’s working hard and he’s taken to being a starter. That’s what he wants to do."

"As long as he’s healthy, we’ll give him the ball and wherever struggles come in we’ll help him. But we won’t take the ball from him unless he gets hurt."

On Elvis Andrus: "He’s maturing. He’s understanding the type of ballplayer he is. He’s still got one more year before he finally figures out exactly what he is. There’s still some times he goes up there and gets outside himself. But he’s mature. This time last spring, Elvis was still throwing the ball away and making foolish mistakes out there. He’s locked in on the defensive end so far, he’s locked in at the plate. He’s working hard. But he’s the biggest clown in that clubhouse right now. I certainly hope those guys don’t hurt him. He’s always on someone, he’s always doing something to somebody who’s way bigger than he is and running and hiding. I told Nelson the other day, 'Please don’t hurt Elvis. I need him.'"

On Mike Napoli and how much he’ll catch: "He’s going to catch more than he did last year, but I certainly can’t overlook [Yorvit] Torrealba. He was a part of that World Series team also. Mike produced the way he produced because of the way we used him and I don’t see why we shouldn’t continue to use him that way."

On playing for a contract: "You come out and you do what you have to do to perform and you let the contract take care of itself. If the organization hasn’t stepped up, it’s up to you to make them step up. You do that by coming out and performing and doing your job. I don’t think [Jason] Terry or [Josh] Hamilton play for money. If you’re good, you make dollars. You just come out and perform."