Update: The Rays added two more managerial candidates to their initial list Monday afternoon. Read about the updated list below.
The Tampa Bay Rays announced their preliminary list of managerial candidates a few days back, and they kicked off the interviewing process in earnest by weeks end.
The interview committee spoke over the phone with Raul Ibanez, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, and Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu (a former manager in Seattle) Friday afternoon, and continued the process Saturday by interviewing bench coach Dave Martinez, and former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta.
Though each candidate brings something to the table — Ibanez’s agent Seth Levinson went as far as to note Ibanez has a strong personality and leadership skills, and an overall reputation as a tremendous person — it’s become evident that longtime bench coach Dave Martinez may be the obvious choice to replace Joe Maddon as Rays manager.
In an interview with the MLB Network, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said of Martinez that he is “kind of the obvious pick” based on the continuity he could provide but acknowledges “it’ll be interesting to see” who is hired. Longoria went on,
Seeing that there’s been so much change this offseason already, they might not want to bring in further change. (Martinez) would be the guy that could kind of smooth things over and has a feel for what goes on in the clubhouse and how things are.
Several other players have offered their support of Martinez. In an email to Marc Topkin, Ben Zobrist vouched for the bench coach, “I still like Dave Martinez at the top of the list. I think Dave is ready for the opportunity to see how he can do. He has always been 100 percent into the games mentally and I know he has the baseball acumen to manage in game situations.”
Alex Cobb added Martinez “would be a great manager. He has a great relationship with all the players. Can relate to us and knows how the culture has been here.”
While Martinez represents a comfortable, known quantity to the organization, the question begs: Will the front office be satisfied with the known, i.e. Martinez, or are Silverman and company looking for a top to bottom overhaul? The desire to retain the coaching staff could be an indication that they’ve found their man. I’m left to wonder about the possibilities of Martinez being hired as the manager, and Ibanez taking the soon to be vacated bench coach position.
- The Rays added two final candidates to their initial list of managerial interviewees, Doug Glanville and Barry Larkin:
- Ex-Rays RHP Josh Lueke and C Ali Solis, who were mainly at Triple-A Durham, have chosen to become free agents. That is, Lueke is no longer the Rays problem!
- Jerry Sands and Vince Belnome were designated for assignment in order to create more room on the 40-man roster. Sands elected free agency rather than accepting his outright assignment to Triple-A by the Rays. Meanwhile, Belnome accepted his assignment to Triple-A Durham.
- Rule 7.13 continues to be controversial. While it put a stop to collisions at the plate, the number of reported concussions remain unchanged. NPR put together an excellent piece which you can read about and/or listen to here.