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Ryan sees Rangers as contender without Hamilton

The SportsXchange

Texas CEO Nolan Ryan believes the Rangers are a strong contender for the American League West title this season despite the loss of Josh Hamilton.

The Rangers will be seeing plenty of their former slugger, who signed a five-year, $125 million contract during the offseason with the division-rival Los Angeles Angels. But Ryan likes the addition tof Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski to the Rangers.

"I think that we stepped back, assessed the situation and were able to accomplish some things that needed to be done as far as strengthening our ballclub," Ryan said, according to ESPN.com. "I think we're a better ballclub today than we were the day Josh signed with the Angels. That's the way I look at it."

That doesn't mean the Rangers will miss Hamilton's big bat and his presence.

"You just don't replace a talent like that, and we all know that," Ryan said. "But also, there's a dimension that's brought to the ballclub that very few players, if any other player in baseball, would bring. It's so unique and unusual that you can't put other players in that category."

Ryan hopes the Rangers learned from their late collapse last season when they blew a five-game lead with nine to play and lost the division title to Oakland.

"We feel like we have a good ballclub, but we also know people are going to have to play to their abilities and they're going to have to stay healthy," Ryan said as the Rangers prepared for spring-training games in the Cactus League.
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