ST. PETERSBURG — Now that the Rays know who their manager will be, with Friday's hiring of Kevin Cash, they are eager to know more about him and how he will do things.
"I'm really excited about the new direction," third baseman Evan Longoria said via text. "Kevin brings experience as a player at the major-league level, which excites me, along with a fresh attitude that I feel will translate into making our already great clubhouse even better."
Top starting pitcher Alex Cobb was among the players Cash reached out to Friday. Cobb came away impressed — starting with Cash calling on a night he should be celebrating.
"I like him," Cobb said on his way back from the Dominican Republic. "He seems like he's got the type of energy that we're looking for. The short conversation I had with him, it seemed like he was extremely excited just to have the opportunity to be the manager, obviously, but you could just hear the passion he had for the upcoming job and the task at hand. It just felt like the right fit."
Outfielder Wil Myers was another player to talk with Cash, and he tweeted that he, too, was pleased: "Loved what I heard. Very excited for him to start."
First baseman James Loney said he is looking forward to meeting Cash in spring training.
"We only have to get to know one person and he's going to have to get know everyone, so I'm sure it's going to be a longer process for him," Loney said from his California home. "I think everyone will be excited. I'm sure he'll bring a lot of insight and a lot of knowledge and feel for the game."
Third-base coach Tom Foley, who was on staff when Cash played for the Devil Rays in 2005 and in their spring camp the next year, said he has heard good things. "It's obvious Cashy has come into his own as far as being a big-league coach, and now as a manager," he said.
In explaining the hire, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg cited Cash's energy and dynamic personality, and baseball operations president Matt Silverman raved about his excitement and tireless approach.
"There was an energy and a dedication that appealed to us, and we thought at this moment he was the right guy, and he is the right guy, to join our clubhouse and be the leader of this team," Silverman said.
"You can hear the energy through the phone today, you can sense his excitement, and what you'll see soon is his dedication to this organization.
"He's going to work tirelessly to make sure he is not only connecting with every player and staff member but finding ways to make them all better with the goal of us winning more games this year, getting to the postseason and winning that first championship.
"That dedication is something that distinguishes him and why we're even more excited to have him here as our manager."
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Silverman said they were open-minded as they started the search to replace Joe Maddon, and they drafted their original list of 10 candidates based on the key attributes of having the ability to communicate, a strong presence, "loyalty and trustworthiness" and "an intelligence and dedication or preparation that would affect the entire club."
Though he said those were criteria Cash "lines up with perfectly," Silverman also said the final decision was "extremely difficult" in picking Cash over Royals bench coach and former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, the other finalist after the withdrawal of Raul Ibanez.
"(Wakamatsu is) a quality person with a great baseball mind," Silverman said. "I fully expect he is going to have the opportunity to manage again soon, and if anyone calls to ask us about him, they're only going to hear positive glowing remarks about him."
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.