It seems clear that longtime bench coach Dave Martinez is the obvious choice to replace Joe Maddon as Rays manager.
So it must be assumed that team officials are going through the interview process with seven (and likely a couple more) others of assorted backgrounds to at least get a sense of what alternatives are available, if not trying to find one better.
Which makes it all the more interesting to see how much they listen to the voices coming out of the clubhouse.
Several players had spoken out in support of Martinez after Maddon unexpectedly left Oct. 24, and the three top Rays —Ben Zobrist, Alex Cobb and Evan Longoria — have done so again after seeing the other names.
"I still like Dave Martinez at the top of the list," Zobrist emailed. "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."
Cobb said 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." Longoria called Martinez "kind of the obvious pick" on MLB Network, also noting the continuity he would provide.
It's not surprising that the players would opt for the known quantity in Martinez, and someone they feel they will be comfortable with. The question may be how much change the front office wants.
IBANEZ INFO: Surprise candidate Raul Ibanez may have been on the Rays radar since a 2011-12 offseason lunch when they were trying to sign him as a player, agent Seth Levinson said, though he chose the Yankees. Also of note, Ibanez sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber, eats only gluten-free food, works out fiendishly and has a "joint alignment" therapist. Plus, he quotes Winston Churchill and reads historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals).
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Pitcher Jeff Beliveau, Zobrist and Longoria — whose fiancee, Jaime Edmondson, is due Nov. 18 with their second child — headed to Japan as part of the MLB team playing a seven-game schedule that starts Tuesday. MLB Network has live coverage at 4 a.m., replays at 9 p.m. … The full schedule isn't out yet, but the Rays are set to wrap spring training with an April 4 exhibition at the Trop vs. Detroit. … Two cool Maddon moves: Wrapping his introductory Chicago presser by offering to buy a shot and a beer — the "Hazleton way" — for all, and taking out a half-page ad in Friday's Tampa Bay Times thanking the Rays and their fans. … Interesting analogy in a Washington Post piece by Daniel Drezner analyzing Barack Obama as the "Tampa Bay Rays of presidents," with the basic premise that good work isn't necessarily rewarded with fan/voter attention. … In ex-Rays news, Johnny Damon will be a contestant on the upcoming season of The Celebrity Apprentice, though a more fitting reality show would seem to be Survivor.