ARLINGTON, Texas – Ron Washington has always been a popular coach with players, stressing communication and letting them be themselves.

Now he will get his chance as a manager with the Texas Rangers, who wanted and needed somebody with those characteristics.

“I am very thrilled. I don’t think I can find words to express it right now,” Washington said by cell phone while on a plane Monday, about to fly from his native New Orleans to Texas for his introduction. “Maybe one day I will find the words.”

Washington, a coach for the Oakland Athletics the past 11 seasons, was chosen over four other candidates to replace Buck Showalter and inherit a team that has had only one winning season since last making the playoffs in 1999.

“Ron is a teacher and winner who brings a great deal of integrity to our organization,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He is a straightforward, energetic baseball man who we’re excited to have lead the Rangers.”

A news conference was scheduled later Monday for Daniels and owner Tom Hicks to introduce their new manager. Washington’s two-year contract includes two additional option years.

The 54-year-old Washington is Rangers’ 17th full-time manager and first black manager.

When Showalter was fired after an 80-82 season with three years left on his contract, Daniels said the Rangers needed a “different perspective.”

Showalter was known for his hands-on approach that led to some discontentment in the clubhouse between some players and the manager. He was 319-329 in four seasons, and the Rangers never finished higher than third in the AL West under him.

“The coaching staff and I have a hell of a task ahead,” Washington said.

The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks both won the World Series the year after Showalter left them.

Washington takes over a team with three-time All-Star shortstop Michael Young, two-time Gold Glove and slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira and 16-game winner Kevin Millwood. All-Star outfielders Gary Matthews Jr. and Carlos Lee and 15-game winner Vicente Padilla are among seven Rangers who have filed for free agency.

Washington was also a candidate in Oakland to replace fired A’s manager Ken Macha. He first interviewed with Texas last month and met with Hicks, Daniels and other Rangers officials during another interview Sunday.

“I’ve always said it’s going to take a GM to convince an owner that I am the guy,” Washington said. “Daniels convinced Mr. Hicks, and I’m very, very happy.”

Washington played in 564 major league games over parts of 10 seasons for five teams (Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston).

But his only managerial experience was two years in Class A in the New York Mets organization before his 11 seasons as Oakland’s infield instructor and third-base coach.

Clemens, Pettitte file for free agency

NEW YORK – Houston teammates Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte filed for free agency Monday, still unsure whether they want to pitch next year.

Clemens said he planned to retire after the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons, but came back each time to sign with his hometown Houston Astros. Pettitte, Clemens’ close friend and Texas neighbor, had left the New York Yankees after the 2003 season to sign with the Astros.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rejoined the Astros in June and went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 113 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who has 348 wins and 4,604 strikeouts, turns 45 on Aug. 4.

Pettitte was 14-13 with a 4.20 ERA. The left-hander was bothered by a strained flexor muscle in the elbow on his pitching arm late in the season.

Minnesota pitcher Brad Radke, who is expected to retire, also filed Monday along with Texas pitcher Kip Wells, Pittsburgh outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and Philadelphia shortstop Alex S. Gonzalez, who was reinstated from the voluntary retired list.

A total of 169 players have filed for free agency since the World Series, and about 20 more potentially are eligible to file by Saturday’s deadline. Free agents can talk money with all teams starting Sunday.

Mets: Delgado won’t file trade demand

NEW YORK – Carlos Delgado is so happy with the Mets that he doesn’t want to leave New York.

Delgado decided against filing a trade demand, the Mets said Monday, preferring to stick with the team that took him to the playoffs for the first time in his big league career.

As a veteran traded during a multiyear contract, Delgado can file for a trade demand through Saturday. Delgado signed a a $52 million, four-year deal with Florida after the 2004 season, then was sent to the Mets after one year with the Marlins.

“Carlos has notified us today that he is very happy to be here,” Mets general manager Omar Minaya said during a telephone conference call.

“He enjoys being with the New York Mets and enjoys being in the city and enjoys everything about this organization.”

Delgado hit .265 with 38 homers and 114 RBIs during the regular season, then batted .351 with four homers and 11 RBIs in the playoffs.

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