ST. PETERSBURG — If Rays are indeed looking for the next Joe Maddon, they spoke Tuesday with the candidate with the most similar career path in Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.
Though Wotus, 53, did get briefly to the majors with Pittsburgh, he otherwise profiles much like Maddon after joining the Giants organization to stay in 1988, working his way through the minors as a coach and manager then serving a long stint on the major-league coaching staff, now at 17 years.
Wotus didn't want to say much about his interview, but he was impressed with what he heard from Rays officials: "Their passion for the game is obvious, and whoever gets the job is going to be in a good situation.''
That Wotus has served under three managers (Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bruce Bochy) evinces his value to the Giants. That only one other team (Seattle, last offseason) has considered hiring him as a manager over the past eight years has been surprising to his boss.
"I'm shocked," Giants general manager Brian Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle during the World Series. "It's very frustrating to see the process go on around baseball, who gets interviewed, who gets hired. It's frustrating for me. I can imagine how frustrating it is for Ronny. It's not like he's been a wallflower on these staffs. He's been a significant member on three staffs."
Wotus was the seventh of the Rays' 10 candidates to interview, talking with team officials during a break in the GM meetings in Arizona. Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash and new additions Doug Glanville and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, both former players and current ESPN analysts, remain before the field is cut for more in-depth second-round interviews.
While Glanville spoke at length Monday about the "tremendous opportunity" with the Rays, Larkin — who lives in Orlando — has declined to comment. Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, who had his turn Monday, said via text, "I thought the interview went well."
Rays players continue to watch with interest.
"I think the process so far has shown the Rays are doing what they said they were going to do," pitcher Chris Archer said. "They told us they'd work diligently to find the right fit, that they'd look within and outside the organization. I respect that they are honoring their word and looking into all possibilities.''
• MLB and Rays officials declined comment on the reported investigation of alleged tampering by the Cubs in hiring Maddon.
• Rays third baseman Evan Longoria hit a fifth-inning grand slam Tuesday to lead the MLB team to an 8-7 win over a combined Hanshin-Yomiuri team in an exhibition to start the Japan Series tour. Ben Zobrist was 1-for-2 and Jeff Beliveau got the final two outs for the save.