Rangers coaches have strong ties to Tony Gwynn

Posted Monday, Jun. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Three members of the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff were teammates of Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, who died Monday after a long battle with cancer.

Andy Hawkins spent the most time with Gwynn, who was 54.

They first became teammates in 1981 while playing for Double A Amarillo in the San Diego organization and were together again a year later at Triple A Honolulu.

Gwynn was called to the majors in 1982 about a month before Hawkins.

“Tony was my first roommate in the big leagues,” said Hawkins, who roomed with Gwynn the rest of the season and played with him until 1988.

“Tony was salt of the earth. Always had a smile. Always in a good mood. He loved the game. He was a baseball rat. Every time I saw him on the field, he was having a ball.”

Pitching coach Mike Maddux was with Gwynn in 1991 and 1992, and was blown away by Gwynn’s instincts. If Maddux needed help getting a hitter out, Gwynn could break down his swing and suggest how Maddux should pitch to him.

Hitting coach Dave Magadan was with Gwynn toward the end of their careers, from 1999-2001. They were in the same role as part-time players who were counted on to pinch-hit.

“We sat and talked a lot about hitting,” Magadan said. “A lot of the routines I do now in the cage with the guys are directly related to conversations that we had.

“He was a big proponent of the tee and things that you can do off the tee to improve your bat path.”

All three of manager Ron Washington’s assistants said that Gwynn was a terrific teammate with a tireless work ethic.

“He was a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Game guy,” Hawkins said. “It’s a tough deal.”

Darvish nemesis

Yu Darvish got what he wanted April 28, a rematch against the team that is the undisputed nemesis so far in his two-plus seasons in the major leagues.

The right-hander then got what he didn’t want, the shortest outing of his career and yet another loss to the Oakland A’s.

That was No. 7, for those scoring at home, all in his past eight starts against them.

Yet, Darvish seems to have found a happy place when he considers his troubles against Oakland. He has gone to the School of Greg (Maddux) for comfort, and perhaps turned to religion or a shrink to turn over a new leaf ahead of his start Tuesday at O.co Coliseum.

“Greg Maddux told me last year that he didn’t really have good numbers throughout his career against Arizona,” Darvish said of the Hall of Fame pitcher and Rangers special assistant.

“To know that a great pitcher like him had a team that he didn’t have any good numbers, that kind of alleviates my thoughts.”

When asked if he dislikes the A’s, Darvish responded, “I love them.”

He doesn’t have much reason for that. He is 1-7 against them in his career with a 4.73 ERA. The A’s overwhelmed him in that April 28 game, scoring four times and forcing him to throw 83 pitches in only 3 1/3 innings.

Third opinion

First baseman Mitch Moreland is leaning toward having a significant procedure to fix his ailing left ankle, one that will end his season.

Moreland will see a third specialist Tuesday at the University of Iowa as he continues to seek the best treatment, but general manager Jon Daniels said that Moreland isn’t as inclined to have just the os trigonum bone removed.

That procedure would cost him only a month, but it comes with no guarantees that his ankle will be fine the rest of his career.

“The way Mitch is looking at it is that when he comes back, he wants to be 100 percent,” Daniels said. “He’s got a pretty big decision. We just want him to get it right.”

Without Moreland, the Rangers have been platooning converted outfielder Brad Snyder and utilityman Donnie Murphy at first base. Neither had played a game at first base until this month.

Briefly

• Third baseman Adrian Beltre made a big leap in All-Star balloting for American League third basemen, going from fourth to second in one week. But Beltre is 1,000,105 votes behind Oakland’s Josh Donaldson.

• The Rangers signed non-drafted free-agent right-hander Andrew Barnett, left-hander Shane McCain and first baseman Zach Stephens. Barnett and McCain were assigned to Short A Spokane and Stephens is with the Arizona Rookie League club.

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