Oakland is special to Washington

Oakland is special to Washington

OAKLAND -- Ron Washington was sitting in the visiting dugout rather than pacing the home dugout on the opposite side Friday. He was wearing blue cleats rather than the traditional Oakland whites. And he was talking to reporters as the manager of the Texas Rangers rather than fooling around with them as the A's lovable third-base coach.

Although those images have become the norm since his departure from Oakland after the 2006 season to take the job with the Rangers, Washington still looks right at home surrounded by green and gold.

After all, Washington spent 11 years as a member of the A's coaching staff, one as first-base coach and the final 10 on the other side of the diamond as third-base coach. His years in town as the club's widely revered infield instructor not only provided the team and fans with countless smiles, but they also provided Washington with a fond appreciation for the Oakland community.

"I spent 11 years here and never got anything but love," Washington said before Friday night's opener of a three-game series at McAfee Coliseum -- a visit that marks his first trip to his old stomping grounds this season.

As he picked at a few potato chips, Washington's infamous smile started to form on his face as he thought back to his days in the Bay Area.

"It's always nice to play back in Oakland," he said. "From the security guards to the fans, everyone here was always welcoming."

The smile faded, though, when talk of his own team started. As many around the league know, having heard rumors of Washington being on the hot seat, he might not be smiling much longer if the Rangers don't start winning.

While his former team in Oakland entered the series tied atop of the American League West with the Angels, Washington and the Rangers are sitting in last place.

Despite a .271 team batting average, good for third in the AL, the the Rangers are dealing with a struggling pitching staff with a Major League-worst 5.44 ERA.

"Just like anything," Washington said while shaking his head, "the game of baseball is a tough business."

Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.