Nine months doesn’t register as a blip in the life of a 63-year-old man, but the nine months that Ron Washington spent out of baseball might have been 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 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.
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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 he admitted to infidelity.
Washington doesn’t want to revisit what led to his resignation, and he isn’t concerned about trying to make people happy.
He has been forgiven by his wife, Gerry, and by the priest who helps counsel them. 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 a new lease on his baseball life, and he isn’t interested in looking back or looking forward to what might be ahead.
He believes his future is in the game, but his future is the day at hand.
“I don’t look back. I did for a long time, but I finally got past it,” Washington said Monday as the A’s and Rangers enjoyed an off day ahead of their three-game series at O.co Coliseum. “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 the clubhouse or a suite during games.
Washington isn’t allowed 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 night games at 2 p.m. to work with, primarily, shortstop Marcus Semien.
Semien was a wreck to open the season after moving over from second base. He had committed 16 errors in his first 43 games, and his fielding percentage was .911. Since Washington’s first day, May 22, Semien had committed just three errors in 15 games entering Tuesday.
Semien said that he’s working on things that normally would be covered in spring training, but he said better now than never.
“I feel like I’ve gotten better working with Wash,” Semien said. “We’re covering all aspects of the shortstop position. He’s working his tail off just to get us better. As a player, that’s a good feeling.”
Max Muncy, a Keller resident, is trying to learn third base and said that Washington is reinforcing things that he has learned throughout his career. Washington is asking Muncy to put in extra time.
“He gets you out there one on one, and it’s tough work,” said Muncy, who went to Keller High School and Baylor. “There’s nothing easy about it, but it’s all good work. It makes you better.”
Washington can still talk passionately about baseball, and he takes that energy to the field when working with A’s infielders. Semien was shocked to learn that Washington is 63.
No matter what happened last year with the Rangers and with him personally, he’s still confident in his baseball knowledge and coaching ability.
While he still has a bond with the Rangers — he watched them every chance he got before the A’s hired him, and has good things to say about his replacement, Jeff Banister — he’s looking after the A’s.
If they can find a spot for him next year, great. If another team wants to hire him as its manager, great. But Washington isn’t looking that far into the 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