KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) – Although his seven seasons as president of the Rangers were very successful, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan doesn’t want Texans to expect miracles as he begins his new job with the Houston Astros.
“You have to have patience when you’re working with young kids and allow them to develop,” Ryan said Wednesday, his second day as the Astros’ executive adviser. “You want things to happen, but the last three seasons the major league ball club has come off with here, everybody is very anxious to see that turn and start going the other way.”
After years of mediocrity, the Rangers won 90 games or more in four straight seasons under Ryan and made it to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
The Astros are in similar but worse shape than the Rangers when Ryan arrived. Houston has lost 106, 107 and 111 games in the last three years.
How quickly that can change, Ryan said, “will be dictated by how the players develop and progress. That’s where you’re going to have to have patience.”
In his brief look at the young Astros, the 67-year-old Ryan had a good impression of the number of young arms. He did allow for some comparisons with the Rangers when he took over six years ago.
“I think today the Astros are positioned very much like the Rangers were in ’08 when I went over there,” Ryan said. “There were a lot of talented kids in the minor league system and those kids were really within a year to two years of coming to the big leagues. I think that’s pretty much where the Astros’ farm system is.
“(The Rangers) did have some key players with a little more experience on the major league level. They had Michael Young and (Ian) Kinsler, and then they made the deal for Josh Hamilton,” said Ryan. “They probably had a little more veteran presence on the major league level.”
Ryan arrived Tuesday and has spent much of the last two days watching minor leaguers with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow.
The all-time major league strikeout leader expects his role within the organization to evolve.
“I think it’s more or less I’m available for whatever they feel like I may be able to contribute, in whatever area,” he said.
In spring training, Ryan expects to watch the major league Astros when they are at home, then observe minor leaguers when the Astros are on the road.
During the regular season, “I envision myself going to games and being there for parts of homestands. How much, I don’t know.”
In any case, Ryan feels as if he is back home. He grew up south of Houston and pitched nine of his 27 seasons with the Astros.
Ryan and Houston go back beyond the Astros. He can remember watching games at the old minor league Buffs Stadium a half century ago, and seeing a display about the Colt .45s coming to Houston.
In the intervening years, he has learned patience.
“I experienced it (with the Rangers),” he said. “You can’t just make wholesale changes. You can’t change things overnight. But I think from what you read and from what little I’ve seen, they’ve gotten a lot of kids in the system that have an upside. It’s just a matter of allowing them to develop, and there’s not a schedule that you can go by.”
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