STEPHEN HAWKINS,AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nolan Ryan was bundled up trying to stay warm like everyone else at Rangers Ballpark.
Ryan was in his customary front-row seat Wednesday near the Texas dugout during the coldest day game ever at the park, and plans to keep sitting there for a while.
Even after the long, cold day that ended with a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay, there was good news for Texas afterward when Ryan ended weeks of speculation about his future with the team. The Hall of Fame pitcher is staying as chief executive officer.
“After productive discussions the last several weeks with (co-chairmen) Ray Davis and Bob Simpson about the structure of our organization, together we are moving forward,” Ryan said in a release issued by the team after the completion of its first homestand.
Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore (2-0) combined with four relievers on a five-hitter and the Rays got their only runs on a fielder’s choice grounder and a sacrifice fly.
It was only 39 degrees when the game started after a rain delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes. That was 40 degrees colder than Tuesday night.
Ryan has remained quiet publicly about his plans since it was announced March 1 that general manager Jon Daniels and chief operating officer Rick George had been promoted with new presidential titles. Ryan had been president and CEO.
Nine days after that announcement, Ryan issued a statement that he had meet in person with Davis and Simpson but offered no clue as to what he planned to do. Now a month later, there is finally a resolution.
“In my role as CEO, I am focused on working closely with ownership and with Jon Daniels and Rick George to build on the success of the past five years and to bring a championship to Arlington,” Ryan said Wednesday.
Since Ryan became the team’s president in February 2008, the Rangers have made their only two World Series appearances. Those AL pennants came after he helped lead the team through a bankruptcy and was a primary figure in the ownership group that bought the team.
“We’ve had meaningful conversations with Nolan Ryan over the past several weeks and are pleased that our focus is now on working together to win a championship for our fans,” Davis and Simpson said in a statement also issued by the team. “Over the years Nolan has made extraordinary contributions to the Texas Rangers organization, both on and off the field, including providing valuable guidance to Jon Daniels and Rick George.
“His leadership as our chief executive, with both baseball and business operations reporting to him, has been vital to our success and offers us a bright future,” they said.
Texas has won all three of its series this season, taking two of three at home against both the AL West-rival Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay. The Rangers play at Seattle on Thursday night.
Texas had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth against the Rays when pinch-hitter Leonys Martin hit a deep flyball. Adrian Beltre tagged up from third base, but right fielder Ben Zobrist made a perfect throw to the plate for the inning-ending double play.
Texas also appeared to have a run in the sixth. Mitch Moreland had already been signaled safe at first, beating out a double-play grounder and Nelson Cruz had crossed home plate when interference was called against Jeff Baker. The base runner slid away from second into the path of shortstop Yunel Escobar, who double-clutched before making the relay throw.
“It was obvious (Baker) made no intent to get to the bag,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington, who did go out to discuss the call with second-base umpire Marty Foster. “He may have done that, but that had no effect on why (Escbar) double- or triple-clutched on the throw.”
That inning-ending play was much different than the game-ending strike in Monday night’s series opener that Texas won 5-4. That game ended with Zobrist batting when Foster was behind home plate and called strike three on a full-count curveball low and outside — a call the ump later admitted he got wrong.
“The last two days were tough days, tough losses for us,” Zobrist said. “But getting a win going into an off day certainly feels a lot better, albeit how cold it was and how we didn’t necessarily kill the ball.”
Derek Holland (0-1) limited the Rays to two runs and five hits over eight innings. The Texas lefty struck out four and walked three, all those walks coming in the third to load the bases before Zobrist’s grounder sent home No. 9 hitter Kelly Johnson, who led off the frame with a walk.
“I felt like I had better command of my fastball. I got a little erratic (in the third),” Holland said. “I went out there and battled. I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up about it. … It definitely was cold, but I’ve got to make my pitches and he’s got to make his pitches.”
Notes: The only colder start at Rangers Ballpark, which is in its 20th season, was a night game against Boston on April 7, 2007, when it was 38 degrees. Texas is more known for the summer heat. Just two seasons ago, the temperature was at least 100 degrees for 27 games at the park. … Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux had to go to the dentist when a crown came loose. That’s why bullpen coach Andy Hawkins visited Holland on the mound in the third. Maddux was back in the dugout soon after that.