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Star-Telegram.com

Ryan: Hamilton best for Rangers in center

Posted Monday, Apr. 02, 2012

By Jeff Wilson

jwilson@star-telegram.com

ROUND ROCK -- A 30-day stint in Arizona might have been, oh, 20 days too long for Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan, who was glad to be back home Monday.

He has a ranch just up the road in Georgetown, and Dell Diamond was where he first became the owner of a baseball team. Ryan has since added Corpus Christi to his portfolio, and, of course, a minority stake in the Rangers.

The Rangers added Round Rock as their Triple A affiliate last season and are in the second year of a four-year deal.

"I think it's been well-received, and we're quite happy with it," Ryan said. "Our players enjoy it here. It's been a good positive move, and the fans have enjoyed it. Being in a World Series the past two years has stimulated even more interest."

The Ryan/Round Rock connection made for a nice footnote before the Rangers and Express played an exhibition game Monday, but Ryan's opinion on Josh Hamilton in center field was the newsiest item.

The Rangers need him there.

"It's what best for the ballclub," Ryan said.

Are you comfortable with Hamilton playing center field most of the time? Yeah, I am. There's where he wants to be. I think that's where he's happiest and where his focus is. So, he'll be fine there. I think that [manager] Ron [Washington] has a feel for these guys, when to rest them and when to make adjustments and DH him or whatever he might do.

How much of Hamilton's focus do you believe will be on his contract? Josh is going to have to go about his business and let things fall the way they do. I don't think the contract should be an issue, and I really don't expect him to make an issue of it.

What is your reaction to the notion that playing Hamilton in center field is a signal that the Rangers won't re-sign him? I don't know why people feel that way. It's what's best for the ballclub. When you look at our ballclub, we feel like he's our best option for center field. That's always subject to change, but as a whole we're a better ballclub with him in center.

What are your expectations for Yu Darvish? We don't have any numbers we're putting with him. We think he'll pitch in the rotation, and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he's at the point in his career where he's accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings.

What impressed you most about Darvish this spring? Making the adjustment to the overall situation. Coming in under the fanfare that he did and not speaking the language, the cultural changes, the changes with the [ball], new teammates. All those things. I think he's fit right in and handled it well. I don't know how it could have gone any better.

What are your thoughts on Robbie Ross making the Opening Day roster? He had a very effective spring. They didn't have good swings at him, and he throws strikes and goes right at hitters. He does a lot of things that we want to see in people in our bullpen. He probably had as consistent a spring as anyone we had.

Do you buy into the notion that the Rangers and the Angels are baseball superpowers like the Yankees and Red Sox? Are we the West Coast version of that? I don't know. I don't think much about it. I think the fact that we won the division the last two years, I think they felt like they had a lock on that. [Owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it. I think it'll be good for our division, and I think it'll be good for baseball. It's going to stimulate more interest.

What are your thoughts about your fight with now-Chicago manager Robin Ventura no longer being shown on the video board at Rangers Ballpark? I don't think, out of fairness to Robin, that needs to be shown when they're in town. That's strictly up to [vice president of ballpark entertainment] Chuck [Morgan], but I think Chuck and I and everybody agree that's probably not the thing to do.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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