The Big Five with … Rangers president/owner Nolan Ryan

5 Comments

 ARLINGTON, Texas — In the place where they do everything bigger, there is nobody bigger than Nolan Ryan. So for the first World Series home game in Texas Rangers history, who better to take on The Big Five?

Is there anybody you played either with or against who you think compares to Josh Hamilton?

“Not played with. That period of time he put together before he got hurt (in May) was as impressive a stretch as I ever saw from a hitter. And not just hitting, but the way he played the outfield, played the entire game. Watching him day-in, day-out you realize how special he is. You just don’t see many players like that. The first time I saw Josh and appreciated how talented he was, he reminded me of Cesar Cedeno, and how talented he was. But Josh has more power than Cesar did.”

What does this World Series appearance do for the future of the Rangers franchise?

“I was watching Jay Leno the other night, and he was talking about the World Series and the Texas Rangers, and I thought, ‘gosh that sounds strange.’  I think this puts us on the map with a lot of people. One thing I’ve seen is how much Texas Rangers memorabilia people around the country are wearing. Our fans didn’t even wear it to the ballpark when I came here in 2008.”

Is there a feeling that the team has arrrived?

“You can never have a comfort level. You have to be very flexible, and always anticipate the worst thing that can happen. We hustled all year for catching, all year for a utilityman, and we’re always looking for pitching. So we’re not going to take the attitude that just because we got to the World Series, we don’t have to be diligent about what we’re going to do. We need to be even more aggressive to fill any hole we think we may have.”

Your only other World Series appearance was as a player with the 1969 New York Mets. What has that long period in between taught you?

“My perspective sitting here today as opposed to a 22-year-old with New York is totally different. That was a very magical year for us. It came together the last six weeks of the season, when the Cubs went into a tailspin and we started getting hot. Did we think we were going to win a world championship? I don’t think anybody on our team thought that. My goal was to be a starter on a championship team. I got close a couple of times, but it never happened. The longer my career goes, the more I realize how hard and unique it is to get there. I’m much more appreciative today than as a 22-year-old.”

Talk about your relationship with general manager Jon Daniels, who is half your age.

“He and I have different perspectives. But I think that’s one reason why we get along. We end up reaching the same conclusion when we’re talking about making changes. He voices his opinion and I voice mine, and they complement each other. I believe experience is a great teacher. With me on our pitchers, I think I see things a lot of people don’t because they didn’t stand on that mound and experience all the different things I did in my career.”

Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a contributor to NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll interview a guest during each day of the World Series for HardballTalk.com.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.