The Rays have just announced that former major leaguer Dave Martinez is the new bench coach. Martinez was played outfield for 17 seasons and was one of the original Devil Rays.
Martinez served as an instructor for the Rays during Spring Training the last two seasons. He was also a base coach for the Rays during the past season while George Hendrick was out for 3 weeks. Martinez has a lot to offer the young team and has a good rapport with the players, but the move is a bit surprising.
Martinez had been rumored as a candidate to join the coaching staff, but many, myself included, thought that he would take over a base coaching job and either Foley or Hendrick would move to bench coach. Other than the three week period he filled in for Hendrick last season, he has never been a coach at the major league level. The bench coaching position usually goes to a guy who has been around longer and has had some experience, so this move is a bit odd.
Joe Maddon stated that the reason Bill Evers was let go was because he wanted someone who he got along with better and could bounce ideas off of more. He knew Evers for a long time and got along with him before he was the bench coach, but now he has hired a guy that he has known a lot less than Evers. Hendrick seemed to make more sense because they knew each other when they both coached with the Angels. The big question is whether he did this because he wanted a new guy in there that could offer something different, or did he want someone who he did not feel threatened by?
Evers had been with this club for a long time and many people wanted him to take the managers job before Maddon got it. Foley was also rumored to take the managers job before Maddon and he is very popular as well. While Martinez is popular with players and fans, he lacks the experience that would be needed for him to be a threat to Maddon at the manager position. Right now the benefit of the doubt goes to Maddon and I hope this is a good decision for the Rays. Martinez is a younger guy who can relate to the players a little better than some of the older coaches on the staff now. He will be a great influence and help to this team.
Now if they would only let Hickey go and bring in Xavier Hernandez.