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Devil Rays hire Joe Maddon as the new manager


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ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon was announced as the Devil Rays' new manager during a noon press conference at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.


"I am thrilled to become the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays," Maddon said. "It was an easy decision made even easier by my comfort with the new front-office team. Given the organization's new direction and its talented nucleus, we have the potential to experience great successes."


Maddon, the Angels' bench coach from 1996 to 2005, is a former Minor League catcher who had been in the Angels organization for 31 years. He has been a Major League coach for the past 12 seasons and was a serious candidate for the Red Sox job before Terry Francona was hired. Among Madden's strong suits are his organizational skills and acumen crunching baseball data via computer.


Maddon likes the idea of managing a young, developing team, as well as working for new principal owner Stuart Sternberg and the club's unique management team.


The job "is something I really want," said Maddon, 51, on Friday, noting that he was a good fit for the position given the skills he has, which he feels are compatible with the Rays' needs.


Maddon demonstrated extensive knowledge about the Rays heading into the interview process. Off the top of his head, he recited how the Rays had played better against teams from the American League West and held their own against the AL East -- noting that the team had done well against the Yankees and lost some tough ones to the Red Sox -- and he summed up some of the team's strengths and weaknesses.


The new skipper said that before his first interview, he received a 47-page e-mail expounding on Sternberg's philosophies for turning around the Rays' situation. He came away quite impressed.


"Athletically, [the Rays are] among the best in the American League," said Maddon, who called the team an "interesting group of talent."


He called the team a little "heavy" in the outfield and touted the skills of shortstop Julio Lugo and Jorge Cantu before noting that he felt Toby Hall could be a frontline catcher. He said that the team's pitching and defense need to be "shored up."


Maddon believes strong teams have four pitchers in the bullpen that a team can turn over its fortunes to when leading or tied in the later innings of a game.


"You can sustain a winning streak that way," he said.


By selecting Maddon over Rays bench coach John McLaren, the Rays continued to distance the organization from the past.


From inside the organization, the Rays had interviewed McLaren, other Major League coaches Billy Hatcher and Tom Foley, and Triple-A Durham manager Bill Evers.


Candidates interviewed from outside the organization included: Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi, who accepted the Marlins' job; former Tigers manager Alan Trammell; Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton; and former Phillies third baseman and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.


The Rays also had some interest in former Rangers and Mets manager Bobby Valentine, currently the skipper of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, but Valentine never became a serious candidate.





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