- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Jeff Banister’s contract to manage the Texas Rangers has been guaranteed through 2018 after his division-winning debut.

Banister was voted AL Manager of the Year in his first season running a big league dugout, when he led Rangers to an 88-74 record and the AL West title last year.

“Through the team’s early season struggles, he was able to keep everyone focused, and that led to a memorable finish,” general manager Jon Daniels said.

When Banister was hired in October 2014, he got a three-year deal with a team option for 2018. The Rangers on Friday guaranteed the 2018 season, added a team option for 2019 and gave him a raise.

“It’s a reflection on the body of work after one year and our strong feelings for Jeff and his leadership,” Daniels said. “It has been a tremendous partnership early on.”

Banister took over with the Rangers coming off a 95-loss season in 2014. The team then lost ace right-hander Yu Darvish because of Tommy John surgery last spring, and lefty Derek Holland missed four months because of a shoulder injury after throwing only one inning in the home opener.

The Rangers were 8-16 and already 9 1/2 games out of the division lead a month into the season. But they overcame it all to win the AL West before losing to Toronto in a five-game AL Division Series.

“It may be recognition for where we have gotten in a short period of time,” Banister said. “But we have a lot more to do.”

Banister was in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization for 29 years before the Rangers hired him. Texas has never won the World Series.

Notes: Third base coach Tony Beasley was absent from the initial workout after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. The Rangers said the disease is in its early stages and is treatable. The 49-year-old coach, a longtime friend of Banister’s, is expected in camp Saturday and will undergo chemotherapy during spring training. … Darvish threw 25 pitches off a flat surface Friday. Banister said the target date for Darvish’s return remains mid-May to early June. “There haven’t been any setbacks,” Banister said. “He’s a difference maker.” … Infielder Jurickson Profar, who missed the past two seasons with shoulder injuries, threw in Friday drills. He is expected to start the season in the minors.

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