Rays react to Joe Maddon's return to the Trop

Joe Maddon (70) talks with starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) during the full-squad workouts at Rays Spring Training in Port Charlotte on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Will Vragovic, Times)
Joe Maddon (70) talks with starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) during the full-squad workouts at Rays Spring Training in Port Charlotte on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Will Vragovic, Times)
Published Sept. 18, 2017

The Rays already faced Joe Maddon's Cubs in Chicago this year, but we asked players, staff and broadcasters who worked with him with the Rays what they'll be thinking seeing him back at the Trop on Tuesday:

Matt Silverman, president of baseball operations:

"It's trip down memory lane. It's hard to think about the Rays franchise without thinking about Joe. There are many wonderful moments together to recall and celebrate."

Evan Longoria, third baseman:

"It'll be nice to have him back. It'll probably be an exciting day for the fans as well, being that we did create so many good memories when he was around. Obviously, I hope that the Rays put together a nice video for him and a nice welcome back, and it'll be nice to see him."

Jim Hickey, pitching coach:

"I'll be thinking of kicking his a--. We had eight seasons together, the longest I was with any manager. We had an interesting relationship. I think we both enjoyed it. Similar dry, sarcastic types of humor. Some really, really good conversations — if you could print some of those that would be very interesting. … It's not going to be some big sentimental reunion, but it'll make you think about a couple of things."

Scott Cursi, bullpen catcher:

"It'll definitely be different."

Brian Anderson, TV broadcaster:

"One of the architects. The face of this team becoming relevant. I know there was obviously a lot of hard work from upstairs, and (former senior VP) Andrew Friedman and (current baseball operations president) Matt Silverman and all those guys making a lot of moves. But he was the face down in the dugout leading the way, setting the tone. In the clubhouse, creating the winning atmosphere that you need. He was the perfect man for the job at the perfect time. To see him back here is going to strange in another uniform and you just hope everybody appreciates what he accomplished here. And acknowledges that in a good way. And I think that they will. That's what you're hoping for, that it's a nice return for him as far as his welcoming back. Not maybe a nice return on the field, but certainly for what he accomplished here, that it's acknowledged. He should. … I would be surprised (if he got booed). I think if he came back right after he left, he may have gotten booed. At the same time, how in the world can you fault the guy? Anybody would have done that. When he was told he had an out (in his contract), well, let me see what's out there, and they are going to be offer me this pay, who wouldn't take that? So you can't hardly fault him for the move that he made, but at the same time it does hurt. It hurts because of what he meant to this organization. Everybody knew what they were missing. And that's never fun. I would be surprised at this point (if he got booed). I think that dust has settled and we've moved on to a new era. I think that people recognize and understand that and will acknowledge his accomplishment. I would be surprised and I would feel uncomfortable, very uncomfortable if he got booed."

Alex Cobb, starter:

"I know all he did for this organization. He was a big part of bringing us from nothing to a really relevant team for a long time. Then he went on and did that somewhere else. Fans have a much different perspective on decisions made by players and coaches on their personal careers. There is this loyalty factor that is expected by a lot fans, but without knowing the business side of things it's hard to know the decisions that are made by us. I get what he did was best for him and his family. How can you say what he did was wrong?"

Kevin Cash, manager:

"He was a huge part of this organization, turning it around and winning, getting to the World Series. I'm grateful coming into a situation he helped create, helped to build. He's been outstanding with me."

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Dave Wills, radio broadcaster (and native southside Chicagoan):

"Definite mixed emotions. I know all that he did for this franchise. He made this a franchise people no longer joked about and he brought us to the World Series. One of my most memorable and favorite moments of all time beating the Red Sox here in Game 7 (of the 2008 ALCS) and then hosting a World Series game. He's become a great friend and is a great baseball mind. But at the same time he's now managing a team I have never liked a whole lot. I can always say I'm happy for Joe but can never root for his team. "

Chris Archer, starter:

"It won't be anything new — total love and respect. But we've got to win games. We can't we thinking about the opposing team's manager no matter the influence he had on the organization."

Andy Freed, radio broadcaster:

"To me, a remarkably steadying presence. I've never been around anyone in sports who has been able to keep an even keel the way he does, from the early days when the Devil Rays were terrible to the high-pressure moments he was the same every day. I can only imagine what it was like as a player to play for that because I know juts as a broadcaster whose job it was to talk to him every day because I'd come out of his office every day feeling a little better than when I went in. Game 7, '08 ALCS, went it with such high anxiety and walked out of his office after he said, "We've already won. Look what we've done for the area and for a franchise that was a joke a couple of months ago. Imagine the people in all the different departments, how much better they feel about their jobs today."

Chris Westmoreland, director of travel and logistics:

"A lot of memories. A lot of memories come to mind, but reliving 2008 stands out to me."

Dewayne Staats, TV broadcaster

"It's still strange. I'm thrilled for him and all the success he's had. He's a baseball lifer and he deserved to make some money, so God bless him. (Tony) Kubek taught me that; when talk shows were complaining about how much money players made. He said, you want people to make as much money as they can and have as much success as you can have. So I'm happy that he'd doing that. It's still strange. The time that he was here, not to take away from all the people that were here before, but it legitimized this baseball experience. So that's always going to be there. So when he comes back in a different uniform of course it's strange."

Tom Foley, former third base and current bench coach:

"I think it will be special for him. Not only coming back home, staying in his house, seeing the people around the area that he's still acquainted with and then coming here and walking into the building. … During his tenure here we basically changed the culture, the mindset. He was always that guy that came in and was positive from the get-go. Even when we weren't good he kept saying we are good and we can compete with these guys, and finally in 2008 it happened. I don't think it will be weird at all; we saw him in Chicago and got to talk to him. I think the (crowd reaction) will be very appreciative. I don't even think there would be any negative. I may be wrong but I think people here appreciate what he did here. I know (video coordinator) Chico Fernandez will be happy to see him."

Kevin Kiermaier, centerfielder:

"I only played for him for one year so I don't have a lot of history. I know it's going to be a story because of what he meant to this organization. There's a lot of change in baseball all the time and I've embraced. I still talk to Joe every now and then, run into him in the off-season. … The main point is from the Devil Rays days of being really bad how everything changed in '08 and he was the one who controlled all that and created the environment here. Not much has changed as far as a lot of that goes and a lot of that has to do with Longo, with him knowing how he came up and how things were, how we're a lot more loose than a lot other teams. And I think Joe was the foundation of all that."