Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks has repeatedly defended his hiring of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as team president, insisting the former superstar pitcher will be much more than a figurehead, as he has been empowered to make all his own baseball decisions -- except one.
What if Ryan decides to sign embattled free agent Barry Bonds? "I might have to overrule him on that one," Hicks said to reporters trailing him as he walked from the field area last week at Rangers camp in Surprise, Ariz.
Though surveys indicate a narrow majority of Rangers fans would be agreeable to signing Bonds as designated hitter -- Hicks said flatly that Bonds would not be a welcome addition to the team and that no contract talks were under way. Asked about Ryan choosing to sign Bonds, the 6-foot-6 Texan said Ryan "would never do it."
Ryan, 61, has agreed to serve as team president through 2011, but remained at the Rangers executive offices in Arlington, Texas, last week until joining Hicks and General Manager Jon Daniels when the three watched games from Hicks' box next to the Rangers dugout.
Hicks' statement effectively closes one more door for Bonds, who has been rumored to be seeking playing opportunities not only in Texas but in Oakland, Baltimore and Japan. Not all observers agree, but many believe the former Giants slugger will be unable to find work.