Hicks: Rangers have underachieved

Hicks: Rangers have underachieved

ARLINGTON -- Tom Hicks would have preferred a different kind of conversation on the day of his return to Ameriquest Field after a week of vacation in Argentina.

Instead, the Rangers owner found himself being asked if his team has underachieved as it prepared to open a crucial three-game series with American League West-leading Oakland.

And he found himself agreeing.

With the Rangers a mere three games over .500 and trailing the Athletics by seven games, Hicks said they have not yet played up to the standard he set in the spring, when he said he expected the Rangers to be playoff contenders this season.

"Underachieved? Yes," Hicks said. "I don't want to call them underachievers, [but] I think they would say it about themselves. We've never been able to have a consistent streak of playing good baseball. If you look at the teams that have really good records, they do it in spurts. And we haven't been able to do that."

Hicks, wearing a white Augusta National golf shirt, khaki pants and sunglasses, held an impromptu news conference in front of the Rangers dugout before Friday's series opener, just hours after he had arrived back in Texas. He said he had followed the Rangers on his computer while in South America, rejoicing when they took three of four from the Tigers and sulking when they followed by losing three of four at Tampa Bay.

"To lose three to Tampa Bay is frustrating anyway, but to be that far away, it ruined a couple of dinners," he said. "I had a lot more fun following the Detroit games."

While he acknowledged his frustration with the Rangers' lack of consistency, Hicks took a firm stand behind manager Buck Showalter, and said he believes the team "has the talent" to be a playoff club.

"I think the frustrating thing is we start playing really good baseball, it looks like we're going to get on a run, and then we back up," he said. "We just have these frustrating lapses and baseball bad luck. There are little reasons that we haven't continued winning. Sometimes it's been a lapse in pitching, sometimes it's been an inability to get the key hit when we need to get the key hit.

"It's very frustrating. I know it's frustrating to the players. Maybe we press a little bit. I think the teams that become champions learn to relax and come through more often than not. We'll develop that ability. We've got the talent, I know that. I think we're due to have some baseball good luck."

Hicks did not waver when asked to evaluate Showalter, who has been criticized recently by some in the local media.

"That's the nature of talk radio. Buck's our manager," Hicks said. "Buck doesn't swing the bat or throw the ball. He just needs to manage. Buck's a great manager. ... He's our manager."

Hicks said he plans to thoroughly evaluate the organization after the season as he does every year to "figure out how to get better."

At the moment, Hicks said, he knows the Rangers are close to where they need to be as they chase the red-hot A's, who have gone 16-5 in August.

"A lot of things have happened that, had they gone the other way, we would have won 10 or 15 more games," he said. "It just didn't happen. There's no reason we couldn't do what Oakland's done this month. The good news is we still mathematically have a chance to contend because our division hasn't been very strong this year.

"The Tampa road trip was a bad road trip. Had we won either of the first two games, which we could have easily done with one hit here or there, we'd be having a whole different kind of conversation."

As it is, Hicks was asked if the Rangers are still contenders.

"Ask me next week," he said. "The reality is, whether we're seven games out or five games out at this point isn't really the issue," Hicks said. "The issue is, how do we play from now on?"

Andy Friedlander is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.