ARLINGTON — When Marcus Semien signed with the Rangers, he knew he had to talk to Ron Washington.
The former Texas manager, now a third-base coach with the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves, told Semien that Dallas-Fort Worth was a great place to raise a family, but also said it was the perfect opportunity for Semien to be part of rebuilding a winning organization.
To understand Semien’s rise toward becoming one of Major League Baseball’s best players, it comes back to Washington, who spent two seasons with Oakland as a coach between his time as the Rangers’ manager and Atlanta’s third-base coach. Those two seasons may have been the most important of Semien’s career.
“Ron Washington is the most influential baseball man in my life,” said Semien, when he signed in December. “It was mostly defense and defensive shifts. I think the point in time I met Wash, I wasn’t in a competent mindset defensively. When I left that season and got into the next season, I was closer to the middle infielder I am today. Very calm — and I still work on the things that we did back in 2015.”
The two reunited and spent time talking during batting practice at Globe Life Field during the Braves’ three-game set against the Rangers.
Washington told MLB.com that coaching Semien was a blessing for him and it’s been amazing to watch him grow as a person and player since their paths crossed in Oakland.
“For a guy like Marcus Semien to say something like that about me shows how much he’s grown,” Washington said. “He’s a quality individual, a quality family man, a quality baseball player and [a] quality teammate. Any adjectives that you can look up that will quantify somebody as being tremendous, that’s Marcus Semien.”
Semien was a career shortstop in Chicago and Oakland before joining the Blue Jays on a one-year deal in 2021. He slid over to second base to make room for up-and-coming Toronto prospect Bo Bichette at shortstop.
Semien didn’t just succeed in the position change, he won a Gold Glove Award at second base. Now, he’s staying on the right side of the diamond to be the Rangers’ second baseman for the foreseeable future. Alongside Corey Seager, who signed a 10-year deal to be the franchise shortstop, the two are looking to rebuild a winning culture with the Rangers.
Washington has seen this club at its absolute best, leading Texas to back-to-back American League pennants in 2010 and ’11. He said his only regret was not winning a World Series with the Rangers. Washington finally got his ring 10 years later with the Braves. Semien, signed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Rangers, is ready to get his in Texas.
“It would take a group to [win a championship],” Washington said. “Marcus Semien can be one of that group. That’s why he came here. He wants to win. And I think their vision over there is to win also. They care. It’s just a matter of everyone getting together and pulling on the same rope and executing the game of baseball. And if anyone can do those things, I just said it could be Marcus being himself and being a leader. That’s who he is.”