For years, the Texas Rangers have been known as a team that could hit the daylights out of anything, but could get their daylights hit just as hard if not harder. It's always been assumed that the Rangers just need to get good pitchers. Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who obviously knows a thing or two about pitching, has a different idea: take the pitchers they have and get them in better shape.
He has given conditioning coach Jose Vazquez the backing to push the pitchers in the off-season and during spring training. Vazquez is prepared to give each pitcher the right plan. (...)
"We feel like the first step in trying to get our starters into the mind-set that they can throw more pitches and pitch more innings is that they have to get the foundation of conditioning with them," Ryan said. "I don't think you come in and ask them to extend themselves of what they're accustomed to doing without starting there."
If you're one of those people who hate the way the game has gone in terms of starters not going much past six innings anymore, think of how happy you'll be if Nolan's new training regimen works out. But ...
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The problem, as Vazquez sees it, is getting the pitchers to work out. He has given them off-season goals since joining the club but has learned that some haven't followed through.
Most don't stay in Arlington once the season ends and are left to achieve Vazquez's goals without his supervision. Vazquez said he can't fly across the country and into foreign lands to check on them. Phones calls often go unanswered, and the pitchers who answer the calls say all the right things.
But once spring training comes around, most aren't in the shape they need to be in. Injuries usually follow.
Could it be that a half season of Sidney Ponson convinced the Rangers that their pitchers need to be in better shape?