Ryan: Washington ‘knows he made a mistake’

News surfaced Wednesday that Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington had tested positive for cocaine during the 2009 season. Team president Nolan Ryan joined ESPN Radio Dallas to talk about Washington’s situation and how the team has handled it.

To listen to Nolan Ryan on ESPN Radio in Dallas, go to Sports Radio Interviews.

Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan says the organization treated manager Ron Washington's positive cocaine test as they would any other employee's.
Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan says the organization treated manager Ron Washington’s positive cocaine test as they would any other employee’s.

Why didn’t the Rangers fire Washington immediately upon learning of the news of his cocaine use?

Ryan: We had a lot of discussions about what the appropriate thing to do was, and in the end we decided to treat Ron the way we do the rest of our employees, that if they have a problem we try to give them the benefit of treatment, get them diagnosed. Major League Baseball has a very strong program on that, so we chose to pursue that and have him go through MLB’s program.

We felt like the way that the club was playing and was responding to Ron, and the way he was growing as a manager, we felt like we wanted to give him an opportunity to continue to manage, and he assured us it was a one-time situation.

Was his initial reaction to fire Washington?

Ryan: I obviously was in total shock by it. Thoughts of that nature had never crossed my mind. Then I was angry that the organization was put in that position. Then I was concerned about what type of problem he had.

He was forthright with us. He came forward. He seemed to be very emotional about it, about the mistake he made, the impact it had, and how he had let everyone down. So I felt like that was sincere, and I felt like we, the organization, should give him an opportunity to try to right himself and try to build off of this, and to grow as a team off it.

How did Ryan hear the news?

Ryan: When [Washington] found out he was scheduled for a drug test, he called Major League Baseball and told them that he was going to test positive, explained to them how he had gotten himself into this situation. Then, after a game one night, he told [Rangers GM] Jon Daniels, he called me on the phone. I wasn’t in the clubhouse. He called me on the phone and broke down, was very emotional about it, how he let us down, how disappointed he was that he did what he did and the impact it would have on our organization. Then he offered to resign. So we took all those things into consideration.

Does Ryan still trust Washington?

Ryan: Yeah, I trust him. I’m a trusting person. I take people at their word. He has done everything Major League Baseball has asked him to do in terms of the testing program, and is willing to continue to be tested. And I think he’s been very up front about that.

He knows he made a mistake, and if he can help other people not make those mistakes, he’d be willing to do that. I think our team is supportive of him. They certainly appear that way to me and so I’d like to think as a team and an organization we can grow from this experience.

Is it likely that a man Washington’s age could have just decided to try cocaine once?

Ryan: That’s a question that’s been presented. I don’t know the answer to that. Drugs were never an issue in my life. I never tried them, I didn’t want anything to do with them. I had teammates that dealt in that and had problems with it — and continue to have problems in their lives with it.

So we know what it can do, what it’s done, and we know where it is in our society and the problems that come with it. A lot of those people wish they’d never tried it, the hold it has on their life now. But I can’t answer that because I really don’t know. It seems unusual.

What would he say to angry season ticket holders who don’t want to take their children to watch a team managed by a drug user?

Ryan: Those are obviously thoughts that we’ve had, discussions we’ve had. And obviously, each individual will make their own determination about how they feel about this and what their thoughts are on it. I understand that.

We as an organization, we have a policy in place where when we have employees that have an issue, we try to be supportive of them, try to get them the proper professional help and try to be understanding of these things. So we chose to do that with Ron. And we hope as an organization we help Ron as a person, help him understand the issues that he has and the challenges that he has, and also hope that he’s able to take this experience and help other people, and that his players respond to him and support him. We feel like he’s growing as a manager and is doing a good job for us.

So I understand people are critical of the decision we made, but I felt like we made it for the right reasons. Everybody has issues in their life — how you deal with them and how you handle them has a lot to do with who you are and what you do. So we feel like this was the right decision for us.

How and why did this leak out now, so many months after the fact?

Ryan: How something like this leaks out, you’re not sure. It could be a disgruntled employee.

Because of the confidentiality of the Major League Baseball drug testing program, we did not share it with people. We kept it quiet. But when you deal with as many people as baseball deals with, you don’t know if something like this leaks, where it might leak out from.

We knew it was possible that this might leak out and we would have to deal with it on a later date. And that’s where we are today.

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News surfaced Wednesday that Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington had tested positive for cocaine during the 2009 season. Team president Nolan Ryan joined ESPN Radio Dallas to talk about Washington’s situation and how the team has handled it.

To listen to Nolan Ryan on ESPN Radio in Dallas, go to Sports Radio Interviews.

Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan says the organization treated manager Ron Washington's positive cocaine test as they would any other employee's.
Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan says the organization treated manager Ron Washington’s positive cocaine test as they would any other employee’s.

Why didn’t the Rangers fire Washington immediately upon learning of the news of his cocaine use?

Ryan: We had a lot of discussions about what the appropriate thing to do was, and in the end we decided to treat Ron the way we do the rest of our employees, that if they have a problem we try to give them the benefit of treatment, get them diagnosed. Major League Baseball has a very strong program on that, so we chose to pursue that and have him go through MLB’s program.

We felt like the way that the club was playing and was responding to Ron, and the way he was growing as a manager, we felt like we wanted to give him an opportunity to continue to manage, and he assured us it was a one-time situation.

Was his initial reaction to fire Washington?

Ryan: I obviously was in total shock by it. Thoughts of that nature had never crossed my mind. Then I was angry that the organization was put in that position. Then I was concerned about what type of problem he had.

He was forthright with us. He came forward. He seemed to be very emotional about it, about the mistake he made, the impact it had, and how he had let everyone down. So I felt like that was sincere, and I felt like we, the organization, should give him an opportunity to try to right himself and try to build off of this, and to grow as a team off it.

How did Ryan hear the news?

Ryan: When [Washington] found out he was scheduled for a drug test, he called Major League Baseball and told them that he was going to test positive, explained to them how he had gotten himself into this situation. Then, after a game one night, he told [Rangers GM] Jon Daniels, he called me on the phone. I wasn’t in the clubhouse. He called me on the phone and broke down, was very emotional about it, how he let us down, how disappointed he was that he did what he did and the impact it would have on our organization. Then he offered to resign. So we took all those things into consideration.

Does Ryan still trust Washington?

Ryan: Yeah, I trust him. I’m a trusting person. I take people at their word. He has done everything Major League Baseball has asked him to do in terms of the testing program, and is willing to continue to be tested. And I think he’s been very up front about that.

He knows he made a mistake, and if he can help other people not make those mistakes, he’d be willing to do that. I think our team is supportive of him. They certainly appear that way to me and so I’d like to think as a team and an organization we can grow from this experience.

Is it likely that a man Washington’s age could have just decided to try cocaine once?

Ryan: That’s a question that’s been presented. I don’t know the answer to that. Drugs were never an issue in my life. I never tried them, I didn’t want anything to do with them. I had teammates that dealt in that and had problems with it — and continue to have problems in their lives with it.

So we know what it can do, what it’s done, and we know where it is in our society and the problems that come with it. A lot of those people wish they’d never tried it, the hold it has on their life now. But I can’t answer that because I really don’t know. It seems unusual.

What would he say to angry season ticket holders who don’t want to take their children to watch a team managed by a drug user?

Ryan: Those are obviously thoughts that we’ve had, discussions we’ve had. And obviously, each individual will make their own determination about how they feel about this and what their thoughts are on it. I understand that.

We as an organization, we have a policy in place where when we have employees that have an issue, we try to be supportive of them, try to get them the proper professional help and try to be understanding of these things. So we chose to do that with Ron. And we hope as an organization we help Ron as a person, help him understand the issues that he has and the challenges that he has, and also hope that he’s able to take this experience and help other people, and that his players respond to him and support him. We feel like he’s growing as a manager and is doing a good job for us.

So I understand people are critical of the decision we made, but I felt like we made it for the right reasons. Everybody has issues in their life — how you deal with them and how you handle them has a lot to do with who you are and what you do. So we feel like this was the right decision for us.

How and why did this leak out now, so many months after the fact?

Ryan: How something like this leaks out, you’re not sure. It could be a disgruntled employee.

Because of the confidentiality of the Major League Baseball drug testing program, we did not share it with people. We kept it quiet. But when you deal with as many people as baseball deals with, you don’t know if something like this leaks, where it might leak out from.

We knew it was possible that this might leak out and we would have to deal with it on a later date. And that’s where we are today.

More from SRI
Julius Peppers talks about joining the Chicago Bears
Mike Krzyzewski discusses the NCAA Tournament

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