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Hopeful Rangers owner excited watching team

Jan. 27, 2010

By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press

Chuck Greenberg bought a red Texas Rangers pullover during a rainy late-season series when he was in town preparing a bid to buy the team.

"It sat on my chair for four months. I wouldn't put it on," Greenberg said Tuesday, sporting the pullover while watching the Rangers work out. "On Saturday night, I put it on. It felt pretty good."

Greenberg's excitement was still evident three days after his investment group reached an agreement to buy the Rangers from Tom Hicks in a deal that will make Greenberg the team's new CEO and managing general partner -- especially on a sunny day at Rangers Ballpark with players taking batting practice during winter development camp.

"That is one of the best sounds in the world," Greenberg said. "It feels like opening day is around the corner. I'm excited to get going."

The sale still has to be reviewed and approved by major league officials. Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who is part of Greenberg's group and will remain team president, both believe the process can be completed by the April 5 season opener.

"My level of confidence is that it should be," Ryan said Tuesday.

Ryan first met Greenberg in May, when the Pittsburgh sports attorney who owns two minor league teams visited Texas. It soon became obvious to Ryan, whose oldest son knew Greenberg, that they would be a good fit. Now Ryan, the Rangers president the past two years, has an ownership stake in the team that will be governed by a board of directors.

"My perspective will be a little different because I do have some ownership interest in it and the fact that a lot of those people are going to look toward me for guidance on the baseball side of it," Ryan said. "I don't know that I'll feel any more responsibility, but I think how the club does will definitely impact where I am and my interest in it."

While the deal between Greenberg's group and the Hicks Sports Group was reached eight days after a 30-day exclusive negotiating window had expired, Greenberg said the process actually moved swiftly.

"The reality is this all came together remarkably quickly, really from around New Year's until

Saturday night was barely three weeks," Greenberg said. "I've never seen such a large complex deal come together so quickly. Hopefully that pace can continue through the approval process."

The Rangers haven't been to the playoffs since 1999 after winning all three of their AL West titles in a four-year span. They have never won a playoff series.

Texas is coming off only its second winning season (87-75) since its last playoff appearance. With a roster filled with young players, the Rangers finished second in the AL West behind the Los Angeles Angels and in the AL wild-card race behind Boston.

"My expectations today are that we are going to be extremely competitive and if we don't win our division, I'll be disappointed," Ryan said. "I think we've positioned ourselves right there with everybody else in the division."

Though Ryan acknowledged that major league officials have had to approve certain financial moves made by the Rangers since last summer, they were able to add pitcher Rich Harden to the rotation after clearing money by trading Kevin Millwood. They also signed slugger Vladimir Guerrero and right-handed starter Colby Lewis.

"There's this extraordinary amount of pent-up enthusiasm, and hope and expectation for what this franchise can be," Greenberg said. "To see everybody so excited and believe in what's possible, we're going to do everything we can to make those hopes be realized."

Including the players.

"Everything that he's been talking about has been pretty much up our alley," All-Star third baseman Michael Young said.

"(Greenberg) seems like a down-to-Earth guy. His main focus is winning and it seems like he wants to do anything possible to do that," slugger Josh Hamilton said. "So that's a sigh of a relief as a player. "