Nine months doesn’t register as a blip in the life of a 62-year-old man, but the nine months that Ron Washington spent out of baseball were the longest of his life.
So stir crazy without baseball was Washington that he actually tried his hand at gardening. He volunteered at the Urban Youth League academy in New Orleans, and helped coach at the University of New Orleans.
Washington went to Italy for two weeks to teach baseball. So impressed were the Italians that they offered him a full-time job. A team in Mexico also inquired about his availability.
All the while, Washington was working to repair his marriage and to repair himself.
He knows he stepped in it big time last year, resigning abruptly as Texas Rangers manager Sept. 5 in the middle of the club’s worst season in his tenure and a few weeks later admitted to infidelity in a news conference.
Washington has been forgiven by his wife, Gerry, and by the church he attends. He has forgiven himself, too, and baseball finally forgave him last month when the Oakland A’s hired him to fix their woeful defense.
The schedule brought the Rangers back into Washington’s life Tuesday, though his old team was never out of his mind. But he has another new baseball life, and he isn’t interested in looking back as much as looking forward to what might be ahead.
He believes his future is in the game.
“I don’t look back. I did for a long time, but I finally got past it,” Washington said Monday. “Right now, I’m staying in the present. Where I am right now, every day for me is my future. Every day I’m happy.
“Do you want to manage? Yeah, you want to manage. But it’s in the past. Right now, I’m happy being a source for these kids, and I’m happy being a source for the organization I’m with and I’m happy being a source in this game, where I feel I belong.”
The A’s dreadful start, highlighted by defensive inefficiencies, prompted general manager Billy Beane to reach out to Washington last month. The job was for Washington, who spent 11 seasons in Oakland before the Rangers hired him after the 2006 campaign, to work with the infielders before games and sit and evaluate them from a suite or the clubhouse during the games.
Washington isn’t allowed to be in the dugout during games, as the A’s have a full staff of assistants under manager Bob Melvin, but he is on the field each day before a night game at 2 p.m. to work with, primarily, shortstop Marcus Semien.
While he still has a bond with the Rangers — he watched them every chance he got before the A’s hired him — he’s looking after the A’s and looking at each day as his future.
“I feel I have a place here. I’m not thinking what’s going to happen to me next year,” Washington said. “I’m just looking at today. Right now I’m able to give some knowledge to some kids who need it.
“I’m here for them every day. My mind is not wandering one bit. My future is today. If I happen to sleep tonight and I wake up tomorrow, tomorrow is my day, too.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760