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Q&A with new Tampa Bay Rays TV analyst Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy finally got the job as Rays TV analyst. It took only 12 years. Kennedy, a former manager of the Rangers and Red Sox, considered taking the gig back when Tampa Bay was preparing to debut as an expansion team. He was buddies with play-by-play announcer Dewayne Staats, liked the area and wanted to become a full-time broadcaster. But things didn't quite work out, and he headed home to Los Angeles. Joe Magrane was named TV analyst and held that job until December, when he joined the MLB Network. As soon as Magrane left, Staats got in touch with his old buddy, and Monday the Rays made it official by naming Kennedy their main television analyst. Kennedy, 54, will call approximately 100 games, with Brian Anderson picking up 40 or so and Todd Kalas approximately 10. The details will be announced later. Kennedy, who will continue to do a baseball show for Sirius XM satellite radio and podcasts for Fox (where he was on its now-defunct baseball pregame show), spoke with reporters about the Rays' season, his new job and whether he would want to manage again.

On his role as an analyst:

My job … is tell people how and why, and give options. That's what baseball is. I hope to get close to the players and build relationships. My job is not to be up there to second-guess or get on a player. I know how tough it can be, because I was a player. I know what goes on out there, and it's my job to tell people what's going on out there. I love breaking down the strategy of the game. I've always loved doing games, even when I was in the studio. … I missed doing games.

On working with Dewayne Staats:

Dewayne and I worked together at ESPN years ago, and we actually talked about what it would be like to work in Tampa Bay with the Rays. He e-mailed me as soon as it was announced that Joe (Magrane) was leaving. … I'm looking forward to working with him.

On this being an attractive job because of the Rays' success last season:

I would've come when they were an expansion team. Hey, I was a minor-league lifer, and my favorite thing has always been evaluating young talent. Certainly it's a more attractive job now, but that's not what did it for me. What made it so attractive was the fact that Joe Maddon is there. I've had the ownership on my radio show — Andrew Friedman has been on, Stu Sternberg, too. Everybody is just so forthright, and I just like the game plan there. What they did last year helps to make it more attractive, but it's still baseball, and I love calling baseball. This opportunity was one I really couldn't refuse. They have a lot of guys there I'm familiar with — Joe, the team, the people at Fox. It's just a really intriguing job. When this came open, I told my broadcasting agent that I'm really interested in seeing that this works out.

On whether he would want to manage again:

I haven't thought about it in a long time. The turning point for me is when I did not get the Dodgers job after the '98 season. Davey Johnson got it. I remember driving back home after the second interview, and I just had a weird feeling that I wasn't going to get it. Right then I decided I wanted to learn how to be a broadcaster. I had always been intrigued by it. I was one of those kids who would play Strat-O-Matic, and I was my own Vin Scully calling the games. I decided I wanted to learn how to do a sit-down interview, do radio, TV, studio, break down demo tapes. That's what I loved. If somebody had called me (about managing), I would've listened, but I really didn't solicit that. Who knows what will happen down the road? I would never say never, but I'm not coming down to Tampa Bay with that in mind at all. I'm there to broadcast.

On whether the Rays can continue to have success:

Knowing Joe (Maddon) like I do and seeing how he has handled the whole situation and talking about accountability and playing hard … I don't think they'll miss a beat. The Rays will be right there in the mix again because of the experience of last season, especially that seven-game (AL Championship) series against Boston when they were up 3-1, and then it was 3-3, and then they won Game 7. Any kind of playoff experience like that is really good. They are in the best division, the toughest division in baseball, but they have a solid ballclub — one through five in the rotation, and their lineup, and signing Pat Burrell was big. I think they'll be right there.

Meet Kevin Kennedy

Born: May 26, 1954, in Los Angeles

Playing career: Minor-league catcher in the Orioles and Dodgers organizations

Managing career: Guided the Rangers to an 86-76 record and a second-place finish in the AL West in 1993. Managed the Rangers to a 52-62 record during the strike-shortened 1994 season and was fired after the season. Led the Red Sox to the American League East title in 1995 with an 86-55 record; they were swept by in the Indians in three games in the first round of the playoffs. Let go after a second-place finish (85-77) in the 1996 season. Career record as manager: 309-273.

Broadcasting career: ESPN radio game analyst 1998-99. Fox studio analyst 2001-08. Dodgers Live pregame and postgame show host on FOX Sports West 2004-08. Hosts daily baseball talk show on Sirius XM satellite radio.

Q&A with new Tampa Bay Rays TV analyst Kevin Kennedy 02/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 7:55am]
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