New Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister finally got to address the entire team Thursday, more than four months after getting the job.
In a team meeting before the first full-squad workout, Banister had a simple message.
"Why not us?" Banister asked the team.
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The Rangers had an American League-high 95 losses last season, their most since 1985. But Banister said that is in the past.
Banister said everybody had the opportunity to reflect on that and understand what happened. He said it is now time to focus on this season, and working to be a playoff contender again.
"It's been the message from the very beginning," he said. "When I had the opportunity to interview, I watched a group of men that really truly ... they got punched in the mouth, but they're significant players. Good players. Great players."
With all the injuries last year, including losing slugger Prince Fielder and ace pitcher Yu Darvish for significant portions of the season, the Rangers hope last year was more of an anomaly.
During the nearly 30-minute meeting, Banister showed a video of highlights from last season.
"They've been told all last year and all winter what they didn't do, how bad they were and that, quite frankly, they just stunk," Banister said. "I'm watching video and I'm going, `No, this is a good ballclub.' ... There were really good things that did happen. I wanted to show them that, reinforce that, so they can believe that they are a really good ballclub again."
In each of the four seasons before 2014, the Rangers won at least 90 games. They went to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011, the only AL pennants in franchise history, then lost the first AL wild-card game in 2012 before losing in a 163rd-game wild-card tiebreaker in 2013.
Banister, who spent the last 29 years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a player and coach, was picked by the Rangers last October over two other finalists, former Rangers bench coach Tim Bogar and former Cleveland Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash.
Bogar, who was 14-8 as interim manager after Ron Washington's sudden resignation for personal reasons last Sept. 5, is now with the AL West-rival Los Angeles Angels as a special assistant to general manager Jerry Dipoto. Cash became manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
When the Rangers had their first full-squad workout, there were 64 players on the spring training roster. Along with the full 40-man roster, there were 23 non-roster invitees along with second baseman Jurickson Profar on the 60-day disabled list after shoulder surgery this week.
"I think we have a really nice mix of young athletic players with grizzled veteran players, and they all seem to share the same desire and the same wants," Banister said. "We've got to be able to match up our want-to with our know-how. And why not us?"