Kevin Cash will be formally presented as the Rays' new manager to the bay area at a news conference this afternoon, but he really needs no introduction. • Cash is about as Tampa as they come: born at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, raised in a house on Valley Ranch Drive off North Dale Mabry, schooled at Lake Magdalene elementary, Young middle and Gaither high schools. He played for the Devil Rays in 2005 and lived in the area for all but the past two seasons, when he was bullpen coach for the Indians. • And now he comes back as the fifth manager of the Rays. Here are some things you may not have known:
All he does is win, win, win
Cash was a member of the 1989 Tampa Northside team that reached the Little League World Series, an all-county and third-team all-state selection at Gaither High, a part of two Florida State teams that went to the College World Series (and the MVP of the 1999 Tallahassee regional), a member of the 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees World Series-winning teams with the rings to show for it (and the 2008 Red Sox team that lost in the ALCS to the Rays) and a coach on the 2013 Indians wild-card team (that also lost to the Rays).
Cash was primarily a third baseman through his three years at Florida State (majoring in business and sports management) and, undrafted, was doing so in the summer of 1999 for Falmouth in the Cape Cod League when he got a big break. One of the Commodores' catchers was sick, and another got hurt in a game. So Cash, who hadn't caught since Little League, volunteered to go behind the plate and threw out a couple of runners. Longtime MLB scout Tim Wilken, then with Toronto, liked what he saw and eventually signed him for $60,000. "I guess enough people saw what they needed to see, and that's kind of how it started," Cash said. "And when I signed with Toronto it was kind of contingent on, 'You are going to be a catcher. We've seen you play third base enough, and we like you a lot better as a catcher.' "
Cash is the sixth Tampa-born manager in the majors, joining an impressive cast that includes two Hall of Famers (Al Lopez and Tony La Russa) and potentially a third (Lou Piniella). "It's kind of incredible," Cash said. "Those names, I would definitely set them apart (from mine)."
|Al Lopez||1951-69||1410-1004, .584||Indians, White Sox|
|Tony La Russa||1979-2011||2728-2365, .536||White Sox, A's, Cards|
|Lou Piniella||1986-2010||1835-1713, .517||Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays, Cubs|
|Dave Miley||2003-05||125-164, .433||Reds|
|John Hart||1989||8-11, .421||Indians|
Cash is the first former Tampa Bay player to return to the organization as manager (following Larry Rothschild, Hal McRae, Lou Piniella and Joe Maddon) and the second ex-Ray to manage in the majors, joining Ozzie Guillen.
Age is a just number
Cash, who turned 37 on Dec. 6, is the youngest active manager in the majors, youngest since 2009 (when A.J. Hinch managed the D'backs at 34) and youngest in the AL since 2003 (when Eric Wedge led the Indians at age 35). Cash is also younger than any head coach in the NBA, NFL or NHL, with the Celtics' Brad Stevens next at 38.
Cash's father, Michael, played five seasons as an infielder in the minors, mostly in the Giants organization before going to the Phillies, where his path was blocked by Mike Schmidt. … Cash's uncle, Ron Cash, played six pro seasons in the Tigers organization as an infielder and outfielder and made it briefly to the majors in 1973-74, hitting .297 in 34 games. … Cash's 97-year-old grandfather, Jim Jardon, last season threw out a first pitch at a Rays game. … Cash's middle name is Forrest, which is a family name passed on from his paternal grandfather, Clifford Forrest, to Ron, then to him. … Cash's mother, Patsy, and brother, Justin, still live in the Tampa area.
Quite the debut
Acquired from Toronto the previous winter (in a trade for right-hander Chad Gaudin), Cash was called up from Triple-A Durham in midseason in 2005 and homered in his first at-bat for the Devil Rays, going deep against Milwaukee's Victor Santos on June 15 at the Trop, one of 10 players in team history to do so. "I closed my eyes and swung and happened to run into the ball, and it went out of the park," Cash said. "The problem is I remember the next 30 (at-bats) also." In those 30, over the other 16 games he played that season, he had only four hits, though one was a homer off Randy Johnson.
Both sides of the ball
Cash didn't play much during parts of eight seasons in the majors with the Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees and Astros, getting his most extensive action as an up-and-comer with the Jays in 2004 and as knuckleballer Tim Wakefield's personal catcher with the Red Sox in 2008. He jokes often about his lack of hitting prowess — a career .183 average — and promises not to work with the Rays hitters. Cash also got to pitch once, working the eighth inning of Houston's May 28, 2010, blowout loss to the Reds, allowing three hits, including a one-out double to Ryan Hanigan, who is now his starting catcher with the Rays.
On the scene
Cash was at the Trop for arguably the two greatest moments in Rays history. He was a member of the 2008 Red Sox team that the Rays beat in Game 7 of the ALCS to advance to the World Series. And he was part of the Rangers advance team scouting the Rays in 2011 when Evan Longoria hit the wild card-clinching homer to end Game 162. And though Cash wasn't at the Rays' inaugural game, his family had season tickets and he was at several games in 1998.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.