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David Brown

Nolan Ryan fitting in just fine as face, voice of Texas Rangers

David Brown
Big League Stew

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SURPRISE!, Ariz. — He still talks like Nolan Ryan, even if he's learned to do so as president of the Texas Rangers.

Ryan's easy going Alvin, Texas accent is candy for the ears. It's a reminder of the postgame press conferences after he threw no-hitters past age 40, and of those Advil commercials.

But Ryan ain't some cowpoke who just dismounted from his horse. He in charge of the whole ranch. And, as part of Chuck Greenberg's ownership group — once Tom Hicks' sale of the team finally completes — Ryan says the Rangers will add payroll if they're in a pennant race, as many expect.

"We're positioned to be the best club we've been in many years," Ryan said. "We will be able to look at what opportunities are available to us, and we'd like to think that if we go out and pick up a player that might make the difference, we'll be positioned to do that."

Spoken like a true administrator.

For a guy who seemed like he would pitch forever, Ryan's playing career is starting to seem like a long time ago.

Ryan reached the majors with the New York Mets at age 19. His fifth no-hitter came at 43, his sixth at 44. Ryan retired at age 46, with 5,714 strikeouts and 324 victories, after his 27th season in 1993.

"It took me two years of getting over being a player," said Ryan, who just turned 63. "It dominates your life. It's your lifestyle. It's all the things that go with being a major league player. I was somewhat surprised by that.

"Now that I'm in another phase of my life, I don't miss being a player. I'm enjoying the new role I have in baseball."

It's been a while since Ryan, who used to reach triple digits on the radar gun, has thrown a baseball with any effort.

"I have no idea how hard I can throw because I haven't thrown in a couple of years," Ryan said. "I still work out and I still enjoy trying to stay in shape. Being around the game keeps you young, keeps you active."

But he's got an executive's headaches. For example, the Cubs and the City of Mesa — where they train — have floated a plan that would add a tax to all of the tickets for every team in the Cactus League. The revenue would finance a new spring training site just for the Cubs.

Hold 'er there, pards.

"We don't feel like the rest of the ballclubs here in Arizona should be penalized with a ticket tax to finance something that Mesa should do on their own. Other [teams] haven't done that," Ryan said. "The City of Mesa should come up with some type of plan that will allow them to keep the Cubs and build the facility they need but I don't think the rest of us should have to participate in that."

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Maybe what Nolan would like to really do with the Cubs, is rope, tackle and brand 'em like he did after Robin Ventura foolishly charged the mound in '93.

"I never saw Robin after our incident," Ryan said. "Certainly, I have no animosity. It's just one of those things that happens during a game. It ... it's interesting what happens in the course of your career."

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Dave's Cactus League caravan continues. Follow him on Twitter — @answerdave.

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