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Rays look at 3 more manager prospects

The Devil Rays didn't give the Florida Marlins long to enjoy their first World Series championship.

The day after the Marlins won, the Rays received permission to interview two Florida coaches, Jerry Manuel and Larry Rothschild, for their manager's job.

The Rays also received permission to interview Baltimore hitting coach Rick Down, who will meet with Tampa Bay officials tonight. Manuel will be in Wednesday night and Rothschild on Thursday.

The Rays have interviewed six candidates. A decision is expected by next week.

Down, 46, managed six seasons in the minor leagues, leading the Yankees' Triple-A Columbus team to first-place finishes in 1990-91-92. He spent three seasons as the Yankees' major-league hitting coach and the past two with the Orioles, and he is considered one of the top hitting coaches in the game. Down, who played seven seasons in the minors and also coached at UNLV, has interviewed for the Blue Jays' managerial opening.

Down has some Devil Rays connections. While with the Yankees, he worked closely with current Rays player personnel chief Bill Livesey, and he said Livesey helped him get the Orioles job.

Manuel, a first-round pick in the 1972 draft, played parts of five seasons in the major leagues, then was a scout, minor-league instructor and field coordinator. He managed 1{ seasons in the Montreal farm system and spent 5{ seasons as the Expos' third-base coach before becoming the Marlins' bench coach this season. He managed in the Arizona Fall League in 1994.

"This is going to be an exciting week," Manuel, 43, said Monday night. "I hope things work out."

Rothschild, a 43-year-old Florida State graduate, just completed his third season as the Marlins' pitching coach. His coaching career began in the Reds' organization, where he was promoted to major-league bullpen coach and then pitching coach, but was fired with manager Tony Perez in May 1993.

Rothschild, who never has managed professionally, spent the 1994 season as a Braves' minor-league pitching coach, working for current Rays GM Chuck LaMar.

FREE AGENCY: It took only a few hours after the end of the Series for the business season to begin, with Andres Galarraga, Brady Anderson and John Olerud heading 36 players who filed.

Cecil Fielder, Randy Myers, Bobby Witt and Rod Beck also filed on the first day of the 15-day window.

Baltimore prevented Eric Davis from filing by exercising its $2.5-million option, and the Yankees stopped Chad Curtis from going free by exercising a $900,000 option.

San Francisco passed on its $400,000 option on catcher Damon Berryhill.

PADRES: Dave Stewart, known for his menacing glare and post-season prowess, became pitching coach.

ORIOLES: Manager Davey Johnson has asked the club to extend his contract or negotiate a settlement that would let him leave without having to complete the final year of his three-year deal.

_ Times wires contributed to this report.