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. …Full Story
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. …Full Story
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. …Full Story
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. …Full Story
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.Full Story
Here is the mlb.com video: …
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: …Full Story
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.
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 …Full Story
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.Full Story
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.'' …
Tampa native Kevin Cash got his chance Wednesday as the eighth candidate to interview with Rays officials for the vacant manager's job.
Cash, a Gaither High grad, played briefly for the then Devil Rays in 2005 during a career in which he spent parts of eight seasons in the majors while playing 12 total.
Cash, currently the Indians bullpen coach, talked by phone with Rays officials, who are still in Phoenix at the GM meetings.
The remaining candidates to be interviewed are the two added this past week, former players Doug Glanville and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, both currently ESPN analysts.
The eight who have been interviewed are former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, 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.
The Rays interviewed the seventh of their 10 candidates to replace Joe Maddon, talking by phone on Tuesday with Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.
The three candidates remaining are Indians bench coach Kevin Cash and recent additons to the list Doug Glanville and Barry Larkin, both former players now working as ESPN analysts.
Wotus, 53, just completed his 17th season as a Giants coach, and his 27th in their organization.
Doug Glanville, left, and Barry Larkin, right
The Rays have added two more managerial candidates, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former big-league outfielder Doug Glanville.
Larkin, 50, played 19 seasons with the Reds, and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. He manageed the Brazil team in the last World Baseball Classic and expressed interest the last time the Reds managing job ws open. He has been working as an ESPN analyst.
Glanville, 44, played nine years in the majors, mostly with the Phillies. He, too, has been working as an ESPN analyst. In 2010, he published a book called The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View.
With the new additions, the Rays have a diverse list of 10 candidates in terms of experience and background. Of the 10 four are Hispanic, two black and one Asian-American.
Five have already been interviewed - former Nats and Indians manager Manny Acta, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, not-yet-retired player Raul Ibanez, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Royals bench coach/former Mariners managaer Don Wakamatsu. …Full Story
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Jeremy Hellickson has been considered a likely trade candidate because he is coming off two rough seasons plus elbow elbow surgery and will make around $4-million in arbitration.
Top Rays officials are in Phoenix this week for the annual GM meetings with plenty to talk about.
Interviews with manager candidates will continued, with at least one and possibly a second new name to the added to the "preliminary" list of eight.
The Rays have already talked to five, with Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, who lives in the Phoenix area, scheduled for a face to face session.
The remaining two, who will be interviewed by phone, are Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash (a Tampa native) and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.
The Rays are also going to be talking trades, with the primary focus clearing space on their roster so they have room to add prospects by the Nov. 20 deadline to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
LHP Cesar Ramos was traded for a minor-leaguer (RHP Mark Sappington, who doesn't go on the 40-man roster) last week, and RHP Jeremy Hellickson and INF/OF Sean Rodriguez are among two other possibilities to be moved along with either OF Matt Joyce or David DeJesus.
There was a tweet early Monday from Joel Sherman of the New York Post/MLB Network that the Rays were "moving closer" to dealing Hellickson to an NL team, and it could happen this week. …Full Story
UPDATE, 5:45: Both candidates said it went well.
Acta: "It was a very organized, interesting conversation. It's early, so we'll let the process take its course.''
Martinez: "It went really, really well. We had a great conversation, really good.''
DEVELOPING: The Rays continued their managerial interview process on Saturday, interviewing bench coach Dave Martinez and former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta.
With those sessions completed, the Rays have now talked to five of the eight candidates on their original list, with 1-2 expected to be added.
Still to be interviewed are Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash, Rays Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus. Those interviews are likely to take place next week during the GM meetings in Phoenix.
Martinez, 50, has been the Rays bench coach for the past seven seasons and is seen as the candidate who can provide the most continuity. He also played for the Devil Rays, and lives in the area.
Acta, 45, managed the Nationals for 2 1/2 seasons and the Indians for nearly three. He has been working as an ESPN analyst, and GM of a winter ball team in his native Dominican Republic.
The Rays kicked off their managerial interview process in earnest Friday by talking by phone with three of their eight candidates - Craig Counsell, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu.
Counsell, 44, is currently a special assistant in the Brewers front offfice.
Ibanez, 42, just completed his 19th season in the majors as a player.
Wakamatsu, 51, is the bench coach with the Royals after previously managing the Mariners.
Other known candidates to be interviewed are former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, Rays Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.
The Rays are confirming the interviews took place but not commenting on individual candidates.