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It’s a mutual admiration society between Joe Maddon, Rays

The Angels manager and his Rays counterpart, Kevin Cash, are especially complimentary of each other.
Angels manager Joe Maddon on his former team: “They’re really near and dear to my heart, absolutely, the Rays and everything about them. ...  I’m so happy for their success.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon on his former team: “They’re really near and dear to my heart, absolutely, the Rays and everything about them. ... I’m so happy for their success.” [ TONY GUTIERREZ | Associated Press ]
Published May 4
Updated May 4

Joe Maddon always enjoys facing his former Rays team.

More so when he wins, of course, though he was 2-2 against them with the Cubs, and his Angels on Monday night dropped the first game of this week’s four-game series.

But happy nonetheless.

Though the faces have changed, as Kevin Kiermaier (and the sidelined Chris Archer) are the only current Rays to have played for Maddon during his 2006-14 managerial term, just seeing the jersey brings back good feelings and great memories.

“They’re really near and dear to my heart, absolutely, the Rays and everything about them,” Maddon said. “I still do follow, I still do stay in touch. I’m so happy for their success.”

He says that about the players, the staff, general manager Erik Neander, team presidents Brian Auld and Matt Silverman and principal owner Stuart Sternberg.

And especially about manager Kevin Cash, to whom Maddon provided some counsel, guidance and well-timed encouraging text messages in the first few seasons after Cash replaced him for the 2015 season.

“Love what he’s doing,” Maddon said. “Cashy and I have gotten along really well. I didn’t really write to him in the recent past they’ve been doing so well. I’ve been trying to not interfere. He’s doing a great job. All the way through the whole organization, Erik right up to Stu and back down to Brian Auld and of course Matty. I consider them friends, I just don’t get to see them very often. Maybe someday again. ...

“And they could not have picked a better guy than Kevin to follow me up.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash, left, chats with the man he replaced, Joe Maddon, shortly after Tampa Bay hired him.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, left, chats with the man he replaced, Joe Maddon, shortly after Tampa Bay hired him. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times (2014) ]

Cash was somewhat of a surprise hire after Maddon took advantage of an out clause in his contract following the departure of then-baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman in October 2014, and later signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Cubs. Cash, who had never managed at any level, has been appreciative of the help.

“I think the world of him,” Cash said. “He certainly did support me the first year and has continued to. I value our relationship. He’s been there, done that. He’s gone on. He had a lot of success with the Rays, certainly. He had a lot of success with the Cubs. And now I would imagine he’s going to have plenty of success with the Angels.

“He’s one of the game’s best. The way he goes out, reaching out. Just the relationships that he created for so many years with the Rays, he’s a big part of putting this organization in a really good light.”

With 1,291 wins, Maddon, 67, ranks 35th all-time, and has taken his teams to the playoffs eight times in 18 years, leading the Rays to a surprising World Series appearance in 2008 and the Cubs to a curse-breaking championship in 2016.

His .537 winning percentage is better than Hall of Famers Tony La Russa (the now unretired Tampa product leading the White Sox), Tommy Lasorda, Bill McKechnie, Whitey Herzog and Dick Williams, among others.

Maddon and wife Jaye still have a home, his Ava restaurant and Respect 90 Foundation in Tampa Bay, so his connection with the area has context.

“I love seeing Joe,” Kiermaier said. “I see him a couple times every offseason at International (Plaza). … And it seems like there’s no time lost ever. ... Joe works in mysterious ways. Everyone knows that. Keeps it fun and loose, from what I remember. And then the relationship that we’ve created over the years has been great as well. He has a lot of respect for me and vice versa.

“He’s done great things for this game, and the Angels, they’re lucky to have him here. He knows his stuff, and he knows how to manage personalities. He does that very well.”

Current Angels manager Joe Maddon has taken his various teams to the playoffs eight times in 18 years.
Current Angels manager Joe Maddon has taken his various teams to the playoffs eight times in 18 years. [ DAVID J. PHILLIP | Associated Press ]

Asked for his favorite Rays memories, Maddon ran through a bunch, including Evan Longoria catching the pop-up to clinch their first playoff berth in 2008, the final out of the AL Championship Series Game 7 win over the Red Sox with Akinori Iwamura stepping on second, the brutal conditions for the World Series in Philadelphia — “Bad football weather, let alone baseball weather” — and the bonding moment when Game 5 was suspended and the entire traveling party relocated to the opulent Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del.

Also, the day Maddon was standing in a parking lot in Brea, Calif., having spent more than 30 years with the Angels as a scout, instructor, minor-league manager and big-league coach, and got the phone call from Friedman offering him the chance to come to the then-Devil Rays and be a major-league manager for the first time.

“I can go on and on,” Maddon said. “It’s outstanding. It’s wonderful. That was the opportunity I needed in order to be able to go from there to the Cubs back to here. So I’m eternally grateful for all that.”

How they stack up

A closer look at Rays managers, their win-loss records and winning percentage:

Kevin Cash (2015-present): 469-431*, .521

Joe Maddon (2006-14:) 754-705, .517

Lou Piniella (2003-05): 200-285, .412

Larry Rothschild (1998-01): 205-294, .411

Hal McRae (2001-02): 113-196, .369

* through Monday

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