SEATTLE — With his 500th on Tuesday, Joe Maddon has managed more Rays games than any of the three men who preceded him. Despite not having a contract beyond this season, he said he hopes to manage many more.
"It's an honor to manage the 500th game here and I hope there are many more to come," Maddon said.
"I love this organization. I love being a Ray. And hopefully it's just the beginning. We started it out last year, we got ourselves in the right direction. Now it's really exciting to be part of this, and I want to be part of it for a long time."
Maddon, 55, said he has "no concerns whatsoever" about his contract situation and only thinks about it when asked.
"I believe I'm going to be here for many years," he said. "I want to be here for many years.
"I think we have a great relationship. I think we have a unique relationship, from ownership to front office to myself and our staff and the players. I couldn't be happier about that, and it's up to us now to continue by communicating. That's the big part of it: to communicate, to work off the same page, to be willing to disagree is very important also. Just having the common goal and understanding the path that it takes to get there."
Front office officials have said they feel similarly. In spring training, executive VP Andrew Friedman told the Times' John Romano, "We all have a great working relationship" and "we expect all of us to be working together for a long time."
The Rays waited until the final month of the 2007 season before picking up Maddon's two-year option, and similarly could wait until the end of this season to work out a new deal. "I'm sure it will just evolve at the right moment," Maddon said.
Maddon said the 3½ years since he was hired from the Angels have been a blur, and it's "amazing" he has the 11th longest tenure among current managers.
"It's just the way this game works, it's the way professional sports works, where it can be very fickle," Maddon said. "I don't think we're a fickle organization. I think we're grounded and I think we have strong beliefs and philosophies and that's why I feel comfortable and confident about being here for a long time."
WORLD EXPANSION: The team's new academy in the Dominican Republic was dedicated Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by top Rays officials and Dominican Secretary of Sport Felipe Jay Payano. The complex, in Guerra, includes 2½ fields, a clubhouse and dormitory for nearly 100 players, and its completion was "a very proud day" for the organization, Friedman said.
"Since the change in team ownership in 2005, we have been very active scouting in the Dominican Republic," he said. "This new facility will allow us to further extend our reach and provide our players the best atmosphere in which to grow and develop."
KALAS RETURNS: Todd Kalas rejoined the TV broadcast team for his first game following last week's death of his father, Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.
"Getting back in the flow of work is definitely helping, and being away from Philly, which was a beautiful week (of tributes), but it was always a constant reminder, so it's nice to get back and stay busy," Kalas said. "I think that's going to help part of the healing process."
Kalas said the volume of response was overwhelming: "I knew he touched a lot of people, but I wasn't aware of how many people he had an impact on and to see that, and the tributes, were really touching. That's what got to me because he was always about the fans first, and for them to show the love back in the abundance they did was truly amazing."
MISCELLANY: RHP Jason Isringhausen got through the first of three scheduled appearances for Double-A Montgomery fine Monday, Maddon said. … Maddon said he hadn't decided whether to play Gabe Gross or Ben Zobrist in right tonight against RHP Chris Jakubauskas. … Going into Tuesday, the Rays had the most plays, eight, judged Web Gems by ESPN's Baseball Tonight show of any team.