HOUSTON -- The manager sat in his chair, legs crossed, and explained his pain very calmly.
On Friday night, Ron Washington used his 59th player of 2014, first baseman Ryan Rua, tying a major league record. In about four days, the Texas Rangers will surpass the mark either with the September call-ups or when left-hander Derek Holland pitches Tuesday at the Kansas City Royals.
Then again, the way this season is going, the Rangers might hit 60 this weekend during this series against the Houston Astros.
“It hurts because you’re a competitor, it’s why it hurts,” he said.
When Roman Mendez lost on Thursday night, he became the 23rd different pitcher to lose a game, a franchise season record.
Washington has used all sorts of people in different positions. He’s had to do more teaching than ever before at this level. The coaches have done more teaching, too.
The general manager, Jon Daniels, is using his unlimited cell phone minutes looking for talent almost on a nightly basis.
Injuries and ineffective play are the reasons why the Rangers have made so many lineup changes.
Washington’s pain subsided for one night when the Rangers beat the Astros 13-6. The victory doesn’t change the escalating roster adjustment that’s been the story in 2014.
Fans are understanding or angry.
Washington feels it.
“You still lead,” he said. “It’s never easy to swallow.”
He’s got young players trying to make it, like Arlington, Texas, native Michael Choice, still hitting under .200. Choice had a career-high three hits Friday night, including a three-run homer. Miles Mikolas, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez continue to figure out big league pitching and hitters.
Seeing nifty plays from Rua, who controlled a hard throw from Adrian Beltre that skipped through the dirt in the first inning, makes you smile.
You see the throw Telis made to throw out Marwin Gonzalez trying to steal third? The throw was perfect. All Beltre had to do was put the glove down.
There’s talent here.
Just not enough of it.
“I still feel it. I just know I have a sense of why,” Washington said. “If I have my regular team and it wasn’t happening, it would be tough to put a finger on why. Why can’t this guy, who has this track record, not be doing this? I know the track records of the guys we have out there.”
Some of these track records aren’t very good.
A few players are keeping the Rangers above water on some nights, such as Beltre, who is in contention for the AL batting title, and Elvis Andrus, who remains a threat despite down numbers for a man from the No. 2 spot.
In a bottom-line business, maybe upper management doesn’t want to hear about excuses for this failure of a season. Washington doesn’t talk in disappointments or being frustrated. He doesn’t worry about job statuses or impressing anybody.
“I can’t control what someone else thinks,” Washington said. “I just try and do the best that I can each and every single day, and I can look in the mirror and be satisfied, that satisfies me. That’s what keeps me sane. I don’t look at management giving me a pass. I don’t look at it like that. I don’t think like that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know what my intentions are today and that’s what I’m dealing with.”
Holland probably described this season better than anybody on Friday night when talking about himself. “Agony, anger and frustration,” he said.