The Rays formally introduced Kevin Cash to the media this afternoon in San Diego, and on the circuit he discussed the need of a bench coach, but called it an ongoing process, one that should work itself out through the next few weeks, but possibly in the next few days.
In the press conference with Matt Silverman, the GM noted prior managing experience in any regard will not be a strict requirement for the Rays. Instead, the priority will be someone who, "adds to the staff, compliments what we already have, and backs Kevin up with what he needs."
Cash expressed sincere excitement to be in the room with the Rays brass for the Winter Meetings, describing a deep learning environment, and said he planned to check all his notions at the door just to hear what management has to say about the roster.
Having touched base with several Rays players, Cash described his conversations as energetic and optimistic, and called the coaching and managing staff nothing but generous in their conversations as well.
When asked when he knew Cash was "the guy," Silverman noted Cash's optimism and ability to bridge the gap from front office to player to coach, and how he exhibited the drive keep players going through the grind of 162 games.
At one point, Cash was asked for his thoughts about the Rays offense last season, which was lightly described as a problem by the reporter. "Offense was a problem for me also," the new manager joked. Silverman then noted Cash's preparation to this point has been on Game Theory, not on roster construction. That didn't prevent later questions on the topic.
Comparing his interview process to that of the Rangers, where Cash was also a finalist, the new manager described a relaxed feel in his Rays interview:
"Just talking, there were some laughs. I did not feel like there was a drilling of questions. It was good, quality conversation about baseball in general."
The air was jovial in this press conference, not much unlike what Silverman described. Cash even joked he'd packed on too many pounds to be given a single digit number, when asked about his jersey number, and said he'd been assigned No. 16 for the coming season. Cash wore No. 17 with the Devil Rays in 2005.
Silverman ended the press conference by talking about how long Cash was on their radar.
Cash's name was known in the organization before the Rays even began asking around the industry, and while the Rangers process helped, his name came up again and again. Cash concluded his side of the conference by reiterating how much he not only appreciated his position, but that he follows in the footsteps of Joe Maddon and what he's built in Tampa Bay.
My favorite takeaway, however, might have been from his interview with MLB Now on the MLB Network later in the day: "I value the analytics, you embrace all the information you can take."
Up next, Cash will be a sponge in the war room for a few days before flying between Cleveland and Tampa to be with family and co-workers in the travel firestorm of December. Somewhere along the line, he'll hope to find a bench coach.
In this morning's paper, Marc Topkin listed off internal candidates for the position, including longtime third-base coach Tom Foley, Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, special assistant Rocco Baldelli, or minor-league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola," the latter a longtime friend of Cash's.
External candidates will also be considered, particularly if the Rays acknowledge a need for someone with Spanish fluency and do not want to promote Montoyo out of Durham.
The rest of the coaching staff in anticipated to stay with the arrival of Cash, including pitching coach Jim Hickey, and hitting coaches Derek Shelton and Jamie Nelson. The only name in question is first base coach George Hendrick. It would not be his first consideration at retirement, and Hendrick was a Maddon man.