Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 3/25/13
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez recently returned to Dallas after spending a week and a half with the Texas Rangers in Arizona. The 14-time MLB All-Star catcher was hired by the Rangers in February to be a special assistant to the general manager. Before a PwC-SMU Athletic Forum Monday at the Hilton Anatole, Rodriguez spoke with reporters about what he saw from the team during his spring training visit. The hottest topic: What the Rangers looks like without Josh Hamilton, who signed a five-year, 125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels in December. "He's going to be missed, to be honest with you," Rodriguez said. "But at the same time, we got to play. We got great talent, a great team, a great group of guys. I wish him the best because he's a good kid and he's a great, great player. "But we're pretty good. We got some good outfielders also there. Not the power that he brings to the team but if those guys get on base for the big guys we'll be OK." Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin will likely split time replacing Hamilton in centerfield. Gentry, 29, experienced career-highs with 73 hits, 26 RBIs and a .304 average in 240 at-bats last season. Martin, 25, drove in six runs while hitting .174 in 46 plate appearances in 2012. Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, helped the Rangers reach the postseason each of the last three seasons and play twice in the World Series. But Rodriguez says the current team can't reflect on the past and what previous teams accomplished. "We have to concentrate now for a new season," Rodriguez said. "We cannot think about being in the World Series and the playoffs and all that. The only thing we can control is what happens from now on, moving forward. I think the guys are prepared for that. They know the team's not the same." Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota
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