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Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

  The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
    Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

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Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

  The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
    Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

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How Rays 40-man roster looks now

After a busy week of transactions, here is how the Rays 40-man roster looks now:

PITCHERS (20)
Matt Andriese
Chris Archer
Grant Balfour
Jeff Beliveau
Brad Boxberger
Alex Cobb
Alex Colome
Jose Dominguez
Grayson Garvin
Steve Geltz
Brandon Gomes
Nathan Karns
Jake McGee
Mike Montgomery
Matt Moore
Jake Odorizzi
C.J. Riefenhauser
Enny Romero
Drew Smyly
Kirby Yates

CATCHERS (3)
Curt Casali
Ryan Hanigan
Justin O'Conner

INFIELDERS (10)
Tim Beckham
Ryan Brett
Yunel Escobar
Logan Forsythe
Nick Franklin
Hak-Ju Lee
James Loney
Evan Longoria
Sean Rodriguez
Ben Zobrist

OUTFIELDERS (7)

David DeJesus
Brandon Guyer
Desmond Jennings
Matt Joyce
Kevin Kiermaier
Mikie Mahtook
Wil Myers

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Rays manager finalists are Cash, Ibanez and Wakamatsu

Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash and Raul Ibanez are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash and Raul Ibanez are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

UPDATE, 5:33: Team president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said the decision to leave out Martinez was "especially difficult" but "n the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.''

Martinez did not return text messages and his voicemail was not accepting messages.

UPDATE, 5:18:  The three finalists for the Rays managerial job are Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Dave Martinez, the longtime bench coach, was eliminated from consideration, along with five others. A sixth, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, withdrew his name from consideration.

Cash, 36, is a Tampa native currently working as the Indians bullpen coach. Ibanez, 42, is still technically an active player, having finished last season with the Royals. Wakamatsu, 51, previously managed the Mariners and us currently the Royals bench coach.

An announcement from the team is coming soon.

UPDATE, 2:52: Manny Acta is out of the running, the Times has learned.

UPDATE, 2:15: It sounds like the Rays will trim the field down to three finalists, which obviously can expedite the process. …

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Silverman calls first deal with Friedman "smoothly awkward"

For more than 10 years, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman worked side by side with the Rays, transitioning as Stuart Sternberg took ownership and then running the team.

When Friedman left last month for a big bucks deal with the Dodgers, Silverman, who had been team president, took his place as head of baseball operaitons.

And Thursday they worked together in a different way, collaborating on a four-player trade thay sent veteran reliever Joel Peralta and prospect Adam Liberatore to the Dodgers in return for pitchers Joe Dominguez and minor-leaguer Greg Harris.

Silverman said they quickly got down to business, though called the process of negotiating with his close friend "smoothly awkward" as they woerked through the negotiations.

 "When evaluating a deal you often try to put yourself in the other person's shoes,'' Silverman said, "and in this case that wasn't very hard to do.''

Peralta had been a favorite of Friedman's during his time with the Rays. …

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Jose Molina to be dropped from Rays roster

Veteran C Jose Molina will be designated for assignment tonight as the Rays clear space on their 40-man roster, the Times has learned.

Molina, 39, is signed for next season at a salary of $2,75-million, the back end of a two-year, $4.5-million deal. The Rays will have 10 days to work out a trade or release Molina.

He started 70 games last season for the Rays, and played in 80 total, throwing out only 12 of 50 attempted basestealers and hitting .178 with only two extra base hits. His .187 slugging percentage was the lowest for any player with at least 200 plate appearances since 1968, when Ray Oyler posted a .186 for Detroit.

Molina is known for his excellent pitch-framing abiltiies, which results in pitchers getting more strikes called on borderline pitches. He had been with the Rays for three seasons.

 

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AAA pitching coach Allen a Twins candidate, Longoria homers in Japan

As the Rays sort through their 40-man roster decisions today and plan to cut the field of managerial candidates on Friday, here are some other news items:

* Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen, who draws raves from the players for his work, is a finalist for the Twins pitching coach job, where he would join new manager Paul Molitor, according to the Star-Tribune. Allen was a candidate previously for the Phillies job. The other finalist is reportedly Carl Willis.

* 3B Evan Longoria returned to the lineup for the MLB team and homered in the exhibition finale to the 10-day tour of Japan. Longoria had left the last game after being hit on the left forearm by a pitch, though the Rays said it was only a bruise. LHP Jeff Beliveau was also injured on the tour, shut down from further action after sustaining a mild lat strain on Saturday. INF/OF Ben Zobrist was also part of the MLB team.

* As for the manager derby, the Rays are expected to trim the field on Friday and bring in a thus-far-undisclosed number of candidates for in-depth face to face interviews. That makes it now unlikely a final decision will be made until after Thanksgiving. …

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Rays face midnight deadline for 40-man roster decisions

Having spent much of the week focused on best manipulating their 40-man roster, the Rays have until midnight tonight to make their final decisions.

Those decisions are multi-tiered, starting with these two simple questions:

* How many additions need to be made from the half-dozen or so promising prospects they consider vulnerable to be taken in the December Rule 5 draft?

* With only two spots open, how can they best create more room now, through trades to get some return or by designating for assignment players they could lose for nothing?

First it would seem the Rays have to decide how many of the prospects really are at risk of being taken in the Rule 5, which requires the selecting team (in exchange for a bargain $50,000 fee) to keep them in the majors all season long. Obviously that seems like a reach for many of the players, and many end up being returned (or even sometimes later "acquired" via trade) but some teams find ways to make it work in order to hang on to a talented player.

The main prospects the Rays would seem to be considering are C Justin O'Conner, OF Mikie Mahtook, RHP Matt Andriese and LHP Adam Liberatore. …

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Evan Longoria leaves game in Japan with bruise after HBP

UPDATE, 10:51: The Rays also confirm it was just a bruise for Longoria, that he he didn't require an X-ray and told MLB team manager John Farrell after the game that he was fine.

DEVELOPING: Rays 3B Evan Longoria left Tuesday's game in Japan for precautionary reasons after sustaining a bruised left forearm from being hit by a pitch.

Longoria, who has had an eventful tour with the MLB team, was batting in the third inning when he was hit by a Shohei Ohtani pitch. Longoria appeared okay at the time and took first, then played the field in the bottom of the third inning but was replaced for the fourth.

Per mlb.com's Anthony DiComo, who is on scene in Sapparo, "Doctors diagnosed Longoria with a bruise, and he did not undergo any further testing at the Sapporo Dome.''

Longoria hit a grand slam in the exhibition game that opened the tour, and made international headlines when he left Saturday's game to watch the birth of his son in Arizona via the FaceTime feature on his phone.

Rays LHP Jeff Beliveau has also been sidelined since sustaining a mild strain of his left lat. Rays INF/OF Ben Zobrist is also playing, though he was 0-for-4 in MLB's 3-1 win. …

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As Rays ponder manager, a look at the 40-man roster

The Rays have two major tasks this week, to cut the field of candidates in their search for a new manager from the original 10, and to best manipulate their 40-man roster to add up to a half-dozen prospects so they can't be taken in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Though the manager search is obviously the bigger story, the roster moves are of more immediate concern because the decisions have to be made by Thursday. Having already traded LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Jeremy Hellickson to get down to 38, the Rays could be looking to create up to four more spots.

Most likely, they will spend the next few days pursuing trades - with INF Sean Rodriguez, C Jose Molina and RHP Brandon Gomes among the players they would seem likely to talk about - and if they don't make any deals they will likely designate some players for assignment by Thursday. INF Cole Figueroa could be a possibility to go as well, and maybe OF Brandon Guyer or even INF Tim Beckham among position players. LHP Mike Montgomery would be a candidate amond the pitchers. …

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Rays Evan Longoria watches birth of son via phone from Japan

MLB All-Stars' Evan Longoria, left, celebrates with teammate Chris Carter after hitting a solo shot off Japan's Minoru Iwata in the sixth inning of Game 4 of their exhibition baseball series at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

AP photo

MLB All-Stars' Evan Longoria, left, celebrates with teammate Chris Carter after hitting a solo shot off Japan's Minoru Iwata in the sixth inning of Game 4 of their exhibition baseball series at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

UPDATE, 3:25: Edmondson tweeted that they have chosen a name, Nash Harrison Longoria.

DEVELOPING: Rays 3B Evan Longoria watched via FaceTime on his phone from the Tokyo Dome on Saturday as fiancee Jaime Edmondson delivered a healthy baby boy in Arizona.

Then in Sunday's game, he celebrated by hitting a home run, as the MLB team won 6-1.

Longoria said they are still deciding on a name for the baby, who weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long. He said both the baby and Edmondson were doing well.

Longoria is part of the MLB team touring Japan. He told reporters there, including MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, he had been keeping an eye on his phone during Saturday's game, saw a text from Edmondson that she was in labor, and then left the game to watch the big event via FaceTime. "I got to see it all on FaceTime," Longoria said. "It was a pretty cool moment.''

Longoria went on the tour knowing it was a possibility he would miss the birth of their second child, as Edmondson was due Nov. 18, but said she was okay with that. He said he will stay with the MLB team, which includes two more games and ends Thursday, then return home.

Here is the mlb.com video: …

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Rays trade Jeremy Hellickon to D-backs for prospects

UPDATE, 10:41: The teams have announced the deal. Both prospects are likely headed to Class A Bowling Green.

Here is the information provided by the Rays about them: …

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Rays continue interview process, talk to Doug Glanville

The Rays resumed their managerial interview process on Friday, talking with former major leaguer Doug Glanville.

Glanville, 44, played nine seasons in the majors, retiring after playing for the Phillies in 2004.

He has not done any coaching or managing in the 10 years he has been retired, though has written about baseball and has served the last five years as an analyst for ESPN.

Glanville is the ninth of the 10 candidates to interview, with only Hall of Famer Barry Larkin remaining. Once the first round is complete, Rays officials will "take inventory" and decide who and how many of the candidates to bring in for more extensive second-round interviews.

Already interviewed were former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, Indians bullpen coach (and Tampa native) Kevin Cash, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, not-yet-retired Royals OF/DH Raul Ibanez, current bench coach Dave Martinez, Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, former Mariners manager/Royals coach Don Wakamatsu and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.

 

 

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Rays 2015 spring training schedule released

The Rays today released their 2015 spring training schedule, with 14 games - all during the day - in Port Charlotte, 31 games in all and an April 4 spring finale at Tropicana Field.

Pitchers and catchers report to Port Charlotte on Feb. 21, and the full squad on Feb. 26. Single-game tickets will go on sale in January, with prices remaining in the $10-29 range. The team is accepting deposits for season tickets now via raysbaseball.com/springtraining or by calling 888-FAN-RAYS.

 

DATE           OPPONENT SITE TIME …

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Back in Tampa, Joe Maddon transitioning, feeling good about decision to leave Rays, join Cubs

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

For much more from the interview with Joe Maddon, including photos and video, and his favorite Rays moments, check back later on tampbay.com and in Friday's Times.

TAMPA - In a way, it seemed Thursday morning as if nothing had changed. Joe Maddon was back hanging out in south Tampa, grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, checking in at Ava, the new restaurant he's a partner in that opens later this month, and palling around at his favorite haunt, 717 South.

But in reality, of course, so much is different, in the three weeks since Maddon opted out of the final year of his contract to manage the Rays, and signed a five-year, $25-million deal to manage the Cubs. The Cubs-blue hue of his T-shirt was a subtle reminder.

"I'm transitioning,'' Maddon said during a 90-plus minute talk with the Tampa Bay Times. "I feel good about the decision. I agonized. I really mean that sincerely. I thought I was going to get ill just thinking about everything, and how it was coming down.''

With the passage of some time - albeit hectic - Maddon is getting adjusted to his new gig, though he admits he sometimes has to watch his pronouns in conversation, as well as mixing up the names of the teams.

"The fact that we're leaving the Rays absolutely does bother me,' he said. "I'm really hoping the friendships are maintained and last, because I have not one negative thing to say. Not one.''

He and his wife, Jaye, plan to remain winter residents, as she next year will open her own south Tampa business, Epic Boxing and Fitness, and they plan to continue their charitable endeavors - though they won't be as personally involved this year in Thanksmas.

And though some fans have voiced displeasure over him leaving as he did, and there are allegations by the team of some impropriety in his departure in tampering by the Cubs — which all other parties deny and MLB is investigating — he is hoping his reputation isn't tarnished.

"I can't control that. I could only tell you that's a really unfortunate situation that that is occurring right now,'' he said. "I would hope not. If the fans and people want to read into it however they want to, I can't stop them from doing that. That's their prerogative. I had no idea about any of this until it actually occurred.''

Maddon said he understands people think he was greedy or selfish in leaving the Rays for bigger bucks, but that he did so to benefit his family and his charities. "Yes, Joe took care of himself by signing this contract, guilty,'' he said. "But after that, it's about everybody else.'' …

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