1st offseason priority for Rangers is manager search, which wasn't plan despite miserable year

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels never intended to have a managerial search on his to-do list after a lost season.

That instead became the top priority, something to get done even before looking for a starting pitcher in free agency or finding another bat for the middle of the lineup.

For the first time in five seasons, the Rangers played only 162 games, with not even a wild-card tiebreaker like last season. For the third year in a row, there was a champagne celebration in the other clubhouse at their ballpark as another team clinched a postseason berth.

But the club that went to back-to-back World Series in 2010 and '11 had known since mid-summer that there would be no extra games. The plan was for Ron Washington to return in 2015 for his ninth season in Texas until his sudden resignation Sept. 5 for personal reasons — not because of the results of a miserable season that ended Sunday with the 95th loss, the most since 1985.

There is a strong candidate in Tim Bogar, the first-year Rangers bench coach who as interim manager went 14-8.

Daniels plans to also interview two other internal candidates (pitching coach Mike Maddux and Triple-A manager Steve Buechele) and probably four or five others from outside the organization. The hope is to have that hire done before the World Series starts Oct. 21.

"We're going through a process I think is ultimately in everybody's best interest," Daniels said. "As I told Tim, at the end of the day, if he's announced as our full-time manager ... it's going to be with a lot more behind it."

Daniels said Bogar made "the most of an opportunity" in a 22-game stretch in which the young Rangers won four consecutive series and gave the Oakland Athletics fits.

Texas swept a three-game series in Oakland, then took two of the first three games in the closing weekend series. The A's then won 4-0 on Sunday to finally clinch their third consecutive playoff berth on the last day of the regular season.

Next for Bogar is the formal interview process, knowing that there are more factors than his record over the past three-plus weeks.

"I want this job. I'm going to approach it like I have to win the job," Bogar said. "JD and I have already talked about it. It didn't matter if I went 0-22 or 22-0. It was a lot more about all the other intangibles that go along with this job. He has to be comfortable with someone that he can have a relationship and work at the same level."

Once the manager is in place, the search will be on for a pitcher to join rehabilitated front-line starters Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. Daniels said, though, he doesn't expect "to play at the top end of free agency" to add pitching.

Veteran right-hander Colby Lewis could return, but Martin Perez next spring will still be recovering from elbow surgery and Matt Harrison's future is questionable after spinal fusion surgery this summer.

The two big moves last offseason could be the significant additions again next spring. Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo had season-ending injuries their first year in Texas, where both are signed through 2020.

Fielder, the slugger acquired from Detroit last November, last played May 16 before the cervical fusion of two disks in his neck. He hit just .247 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 42 games. Before surgery, he had played 547 consecutive games since 2010, then the longest active streak in the majors.

Choo hit .242 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs in 123 games before surgery earlier this month to remove a bone spur from his left elbow. The outfielder who led off then had surgery on a bothersome left ankle.

"We need a major uptick there," Daniels said. "We've made big commitments and I expect those guys to be healthy, and I expect them to be productive."

But Fielder and Choo weren't the only injured Rangers.

Texas used the disabled list 26 times for 21 players who combined had more than 2,000 games missed. Fielder, Choo and Darvish were among a dozen players who ended the season on the 60-day DL and have to be added back to the roster.

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