Jon Daniels has become thick-skinned over the years. He’s had to trade and cut players. He’s had to fire coaches and scouts. Making those decisions are always difficult and there is plenty of backlash that heads Daniels’ way.
But it’s still never pleasant for Daniels to hear or read a former player taking personal shots at him, especially one who became a fan favorite and was part of the Texas Rangers’ best years.
Daniels wasn’t going to get into the name-calling battle Tuesday morning, but defended the way he does business in light of Ian Kinsler calling him a “sleazeball” and wishing the Rangers go “0-162” in an ESPN The Magazine story published this week.
“My friends back home are having fun with it,” Daniels said. “It’s kind of part of the deal, part of the gig. It doesn’t make it easier. I’ve got young kids, they’re in school. I don’t know if my son is hearing about this. You kind of just stay true to who you are and the people who are here that know what we do day in and day out they know what’s going on.
“The 0-162, now listen, obviously he’s a competitor. That’s part of what it’s about. I hope our players are [angry] about that. I do. I think we’ll find out what we’re made of, and how we go about our business and handle our business. But I’m very, very proud of what we’ve accomplished here over the years.”
The Rangers made Kinsler the highest-paid second baseman when they signed him to a five-year, $75 million extension in April 2012, and he did back off his comments some Tuesday.
Kinsler told Detroit reporters that they were taken “a little out of context,” but he had no intentions of clarifying anything with Daniels.
“There’s no reason to,” Kinsler said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “He’s a grown man. He’s intelligent enough and had enough conversations with me to understand where I stand. That’s really it.”
In the ESPN story, Kinsler said he felt Daniels’ ego pushed Nolan Ryan out of the organization, which Daniels said was “just not accurate.”
“I’m not going to get into it any more than that,” Daniels said.
Kinsler also mentioned that he wasn’t pleased when the team wanted him to take on more of a leadership role last season, saying: “They wanted me to lead these young players, teach them the way to compete, when the only thing I should be worried about is how I’m performing in the game.”
Kinsler had a few more complaints about the organization. He didn’t like the team asking him to move to first base in 2013 to clear a spot for top prospect Jurickson Profar or finding out on social media that he had been traded to the Tigers in exchange for Prince Fielder this winter.
Daniels admitted it was unfortunate that Kinsler learned about the trade that way, but he was on a flight when the deal had been approved by all parties involved.
But Daniels now knows the trade was the right way to go.
“This probably reinforces that the trade itself was probably a good thing for all parties involved,” Daniels said. “Ian was a good player on the greatest teams in franchise history. He was a key part of that. We’re moving on, he’s moving on, that’s where we’ll leave it.”
Manager Ron Washington came to Daniels’ defense, calling an impromptu meeting with local reporters after the morning workout.
“I wanted to let you guys know as an organization, our unity hasn’t dissipated one bit,” Washington said. “We’ve been a united unit since the day I arrived here and the reason why this organization is moving forward is the hard work Jon Daniels and his group has done to try and supply us with players that we can go out and compete with for a championship.
“Jon Daniels has been one of the best general managers in the game and everything that he’s ever done, he’s done it simply because it’s going to make our team better.”
In the clubhouse, most of Kinsler’s former teammates brushed off the comments and recalled fond memories of playing with him. They also joked about Kinsler’s “0-162” comment.
Asked if he thought the Rangers could win at least one game, Adrian Beltre said: “I hope. Ian is entitled to his opinion, right? I still love him, still like him.”
Said Colby Lewis: “I really liked and loved Kinsy when he was here. He’s a gamer, that’s for sure. But everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I’m not going to sit here and make the situation more than it is.”
Josh Hamilton created a stir last spring when he called Dallas-Fort Worth “a football town” and told Angels reporters that “at least I won’t be the only villain in Texas now.”
Hamilton then sent a Twitter message to Kinsler, saying: “Not fun being in the Texas doghouse, is it @IKinsler3?”
But Daniels didn’t draw any comparisons between Hamilton’s and Kinsler’s jabs.
“I think Josh was having a little bit of fun with it, maybe a little backhanded dig,” Daniels said. “I think he was having a little bit more fun with it and it kind of blew up on him.”