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Royals manager has unique insight into two of Rays' managerial candidates

Raul Ibanez gets high praise for his class, integrity and work ethic from his last manager, the Royals’ Ned Yost.
Raul Ibanez gets high praise for his class, integrity and work ethic from his last manager, the Royals’ Ned Yost.
Published Dec. 2, 2014

Having shared a dugout with Don Wakamatsu all season and Raul Ibanez the past four months, Royals manager Ned Yost has unique insight into two of three finalists interviewing this week to be the next Rays manager.

In Wakamatsu, Yost sees someone prepared and qualified for a second shot at managing, having spent 2009-10 in Seattle.

"Absolutely," Yost told the Tampa Bay Times Monday. "We've talked about this, he's shared some insights on how he feels, stuff that he's learned after his first experience, the experience he went through last year and things that he saw.

"He feels like he's ready for another opportunity, and I do, too. I think he'd be a great addition to that organization."

Yost didn't know Wakamatsu before hiring him as bench coach this past season. He said he couldn't have been more impressed, crediting Wakamatsu for a large role in the Royals' success, specifically in handling the analytical data:

"He's got tremendous people skills, he's got a tremendous personality, he's got great baseball intellect and he's extremely organized. … He had so much insight and so much experience, it was like having another manager in the dugout."

And though others may find it odd the Rays would consider hiring Ibanez straight from playing, Yost said, "It's not really surprising if you know Raul. He's got tremendous class, tremendous integrity, tremendous work ethic. … It makes perfect sense when you stop and think about it."

Yost said Ibanez, who played 19 seasons as an outfielder/DH, will need some strong coaching support but can handle the rest of the job: "He's got tremendous people skills also, which I think is vastly important for this position because you have to be able to effectively and honestly communicate with 25 different personalities."

The third finalist, Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash, got strong reviews from his boss, general manager Chris Antonetti:

"Kevin cares about each player, not only as a player but as a person. He works to connect individually with each guy to build a trusting relationship, understand the player's strengths, and think about ways to help him succeed. Beyond his extraordinary interpersonal skills, humility, and leadership qualities, Kevin is an avid learner that always seeks ways to improve. He constantly asks questions of those around him to learn from them to help him be a better coach.

"All of these attributes will undoubtedly continue to serve him well as he assumes additional leadership responsibilities. He may not have managerial experience but he is very well equipped to handle the various challenges that come with the job.''

More Rays news

• Infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez was traded to the Pirates for a player to be named and cash. Rodriguez hit .211 but was second on the team with 12 homers last season.

• The six remaining arbitration eligible players are expected to be tendered contracts by tonight's midnight deadline: infielder Logan Forsythe, outfielders Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, pitchers Alex Cobb, Jake McGee and Drew Smyly.

• Pitcher Chris Archer leaves today on a 12-day trip to South Africa as an MLB ambassador, running camps and clinics in Cape Town and Johannesburg, planning a safari and visit to Table Mountain and scheduling township visits. "I'll be able to get a better perspective on life," Archer said. "And hopefully I'll be able to offer some words of encouragement or optimism."

• Ex-Rays star Carlos Peña joined MLB Network as a studio analyst.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.