Rangers to be featured on TWIB

Rangers to be featured on TWIB

Barring a late miracle, this season won't bring a postseason berth for the Rangers. But 2009 did bring about change -- the good kind.

Long known as a franchise with a vaunted offense but little else, Texas added a bit of pitching and defense this year to stay competitive in the American League Wild Card race for most of the season and guarantee a winning record for the first time since '04.

On Saturday, "This Week In Baseball" will take a closer look.

The longest-running sports anthology show in television history, which airs at 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX, will take viewers on a tour of the pregame activities at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with young star Ian Kinsler, analyze how Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan has turned back the clock on his pitching staff and delve into Ivan Rodriguez's celebrated return to Texas.

"They're definitely still a great story," said lead producer Matt Anderton, whose crew shot most of the footage during the Rangers' series against the Dodgers from June 12-14. "They're going to have a winning record for the first time since '04, their pitching staff is really improved and their offense is still there."

Kinsler, 27, went into Thursday second on the team in home runs (29) and RBIs (80) while ranking third in hits (132). On Saturday he'll lead the TWIB camera crews through the clubhouse, then onto the field for pregame batting practice and throughout the game while being mic'd up.

"The team is getting better and younger, and we're with one of the young stars on the team," Anderton said. "It's a great look at what happens on game day and what the players are doing before the game.

"I think it's just more about the interaction with the other guys. That team seems to have fun together."

Ryan was hardly on pitch counts or innings limits when he played. And though baseball has become somewhat obsessed with monitoring a starting pitcher's output throughout the course of the long season, the Rangers' president has sought to change that by taking it back to his time, in a way.

Ryan, he of 324 wins and 5,714 strikeouts, has practically banished pitch counts as a measure of how far his pitchers go into games and cites conditioning as being most important.

Last year, Rangers starters ranked 13th in the AL, with a 5.51 ERA. But going into Thursday, their rotation -- though not very big in name status -- was eighth, with an ERA of 4.53.

TWIB will go more in depth on Ryan's theory, thanks to interviews with manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux, right-hander Scott Feldman and the man himself.

"He wants pitchers to not feel like they're going five or six and that's a good night," Anderton said. "He wants them to go longer and go harder, more along the lines of what he did."

Finally, TWIB will pay tribute to a man who not only handles pitchers but is one of Texas' favorite sons.

While spending his first 12 Major League seasons in Arlington, Rodriguez not only garnered the nickname "Pudge," he received 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and six consecutive Silver Slugger Awards to boot.

After achieving World Series glory with the Marlins in '03, followed by stops with the Tigers, Yankees and Astros, the 37-year-old Rodriguez returned to the place he never stopped calling home.

"It has been great," Rodriguez said of his second stint with the Rangers, which began on Aug. 18. "The organization is good, and the fans have treated me well. This is my home. We have a chance to win and do good things here. I want to stay here and finish my career here."

In addition to Rangers coverage, TWIB will feature 1989 Roberto Clemente Award winner Gary Carter, the former catcher who has volunteered to be a spokesperson for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

"We have great footage from 1989 of him visiting the hospitals and meeting with the kids, lifting their spirits," Anderton said. "It's a nice feature. It really shows players giving back to their community."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. T.R. Sullivan contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.