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Ryan Proclaims Best Team Yet

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    As Texas Rangers spring training officially got going Wednesday with pitchers and catchers reporting and the rest of the roster expected to be in Surprise, Ariz., by Monday, team president/owner Nolan Ryan met with the media to give his version of Jerry Jones' state of the team address.

    But there's a pretty significant difference between Ryan and Double-J.

    Ryan actually has plenty of legitimate reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season, and on Wednesday he claimed this year's Rangers team is "as strong a club as we've ever been."

    That says a lot when you consider the Rangers have been the American League's representative in the Fall Classic for the past two seasons and were on strike away — twice — from winning the whole darn thing back in October.

    Ryan attributed his optimism to the club's deep, youthful pitching staff and the core group of players back on the roster from the past two years' success and what is probably the top lineup in baseball from top to bottom.

    "If you want to look at our ballclub and analyze our ballclub, the area that I think we have more upside than any other area is our pitching staff and mainly our starting staff," Ryan told the Associated Press, "because of the youth that we have in there. I don't think those guys have reached the level that I think they're capable of going to, and that includes Yu (Darvish). Obviously he's in that same age group as the rest of those young starters. I think his better years are ahead of him."