The Tampa Bay Rays have narrowed their managerial search naming the three finalists on Friday, which did not include bench coach Dave Martinez. Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu have the honors as the final three.
Dave Martinez was a member of the inaugural Devil Rays team in 1998 and rejoined the team in 2008 when Joe Maddon brought him in to serve as his bench coach. In the past, he has interviewed for the manager’s job the Cubs, Blue Jays, Indians, Nationals and Astros and was passed over each time.
Many figured that Martinez would be a slam dunk to get the manager’s job, especially with all the other moves that have happened in the days since Maddon’s departure and the fact that he is well liked by the players.
On Nov. 7, infielder Evan Longoria said, “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 this clubhouse.”
Under contract like the rest of the coaching staff through the end of the 2015 season, it is unknown at this time if Martinez will want to return as bench coach or if the new manager wants to hire his own.
There is some speculation that Martinez will not return and that he’ll be offered another position in the organization. On the other hand, he could walk away and maybe join Maddon in Chicago.
In his release to the media on Nov. 21, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said,
“The decision on Dave Martinez [most recently the Rays’ bench coach] was especially difficult, He’s played a key role in our organization’s evolution, and he’s done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture. We’re excited to get to know our three remaining finalists better as we look to name our next manager in the coming weeks.”
The Rays said interviews with the finalists will be scheduled for the week of Dec. 1. Also cut were Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville, Manny Acta, Craig Counsell, Charlie Montoyo and Ron Wotus. Counsell actually removed himself from consideration earlier on Friday stating his desire to stay in his current position with the Brewers as a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.
Kevin Cash, 36, has spent the past two seasons as the Indians’ bullpen coach. He caught eight seasons in the Major Leagues and played all but 20 games in the American League East, including a stint with Tampa Bay in 2005.
Prior to joining the Indians, Cash spent the 2012 season as a Major League advance scout for the Blue Jays. The Tampa native played in the 1989 Little League World Series for Tampa Northside, graduated from Gaither High School in 1997, and played three seasons for Florida State University, including a trip to the 1999 College World Series.
Raul Ibanez, 42, recently completed his 19th season in the Major Leagues as a first baseman, outfielder and DH, finishing the campaign with the AL champion Kansas City Royals. He has amassed 305 career home runs and 2,034 hits while playing for the Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels.
Ibanez was named a 2009 National League All-Star, and is a four-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for his community involvement. He attended Miami Sunset High School and Miami-Dade Community College.
Don Wakamatsu, 51, recently finished his first year as the Royals’ bench coach. It was his 17th season coaching or managing professionally, and 10th as a Major League bench coach after filling the role for the Rangers, Athletics and Blue Jays.
Wakamatsu managed 274 games for the Mariners in 2009-10, becoming the first Asian-American manager in Major League history. After graduating from Arizona State University, he went on to catch 12 seasons professionally, including 18 games with the White Sox in 1991. He has been the bench coach of Texas (2003 to 2006), Oakland (2008), Toronto (2011-12) and Kansas City (2014), and was the Rangers’ third-base coach in 2007.
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