Hershiser's efforts paying dividends for Rangers

Originally Published: March 9, 2005
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
SURPRISE, Ariz. – Orel Hershiser isn't vain enough to think he's mastered this business of running a pitching staff, even if his team's performance last year served as evidence to the contrary. The Texas Rangers used 17 starters in 2004, played half their games in a pitcher's hellhole, and ranked fifth in the league with a 4.90 earned run average.

That's like William Hung winning American Idol – or Maurice Clarett nabbing an Olympic medal in the 100-meter sprint.

The Texas staff returned this spring unburdened by expectations. No. 1 starter Kenny Rogers is 40 years old and can't reasonably expect 6.85 runs-per-game worth of support again this year. While Rangers fans clamored for the team to sign a Matt Clement or Odalis Perez over the winter, management responded with an $800,000, incentive-laden deal for Pedro Astacio, who might as well have been in the witness protection program the last two seasons.

But the pitching coach is undeterred. He's about to begin his fourth season in the job, and he's really getting the hang of it.

Jerry Crasnick | email

ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer