OKLAHOMA CITY, JUNE 20 -- It was 16 years ago that a rookie shortstop, Toby Harrah, hit .230 for the Washington Senators. Now he's a rookie manager.

"Managing is the next thing to playing," he says of his job with the Oklahoma City 89ers, Class AAA farm club of the Texas Rangers. "I consider myself really one of them."

After becoming a Texas Ranger, along with the rest of the Senators in 1972, he played with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. He opted for his new career after hitting .218 with the Rangers last season.

"I've played in 2,000 games in the major leagues," he says. "I have about 7,000 at-bats. I feel I have some knowledge I can share to make them better players."

But early in the season, he occasionally switched his starting lineup just before game time. He'd forget to tell the official scorer, which led to confusion. Then he stirred controversy by criticized female umpire Pam Postema. Harrah says he's learning.

"I think the best thing he does is he knows how to relate to people," Steve Kemp of the 89ers says. "He's very optimistic, and tries to really build a player's confidence. I think that's one of the most important things a manager can do."

"It's so important to keep these guys in a positive frame of mind," Harrah says. "It's such a long season, with a lot of ups and downs. If your attitude is positive and you feel good about yourself, you get through those stretches a lot better."

"It's a challenge," Harrah says of managing his team, which is hovering around .500. "That's what it's all about, the challenge of it all."