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Four coaches let go as Rays begin overhaul under Piniella

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella and general manager Chuck LaMar met Tuesday morning to begin discussions about constructing Piniella's coaching staff for next season.

No hirings were announced, but it's clear who won't be back.

Pitching coach Jackie Brown, hitting coach Milt May, bullpen coach Glenn Ezell and first-base coach Lee May were informed they wouldn't be returning in 2003.

"After the meeting it was clear to us that there were going to be some changes made," LaMar said. "I owed it to those men that have waited patiently to find out who we were going to hire as manager to let them know as soon as possible if I thought it was going to work out here or not."

Brown and Milt May were signed through next season.

"As a manager Lou should be the guy to have people he knows and has been associated with," said Milt May, who lives in Bradenton. "That's just the way it happens. I'm fine with it either way because I understand how it works."

Bench coach Billy Hatcher and third-base coach Tom Foley, who have been with the organization from the start and were interviewed for the manager's job, remain under consideration for a spot on Piniella's staff.

LaMar said he might begin calling teams for permission to talk to candidates as soon as today. One organization likely to get a phone call is Seattle, where Piniella managed the past 10 seasons.

"Our goal is not really where they come from," LaMar said. "It's just to put the best staff we possibly can and one that Lou is comfortable with."

The Rays might be interested in Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price, bullpen coach Matt Sinatro, bench coach John McLaren and Lee Elia, who has area ties and served as the major-league field and coaching consultant for the Mariners this season.

Price and McLaren interviewed for Piniella's former job Tuesday. Elia is scheduled to interview with the Mariners on Thursday.

"We're going to continue to evaluate all possibilities and if that leads to us calling Seattle then that's what I'll do," LaMar said. One person who would jump at the chance to join Piniella's staff but is unlikely to be considered is retired catcher Joe Oliver.

Now working as a real estate agent in Orlando, Oliver played for Piniella in Cincinnati and Seattle during parts of his 13-year major-league career and has aspirations of becoming a manager.

"He's a guy I would love to work for and love to learn on the other side of the fence from," Oliver said of Piniella. "I would love to be able to listen to what his thought process is as a coach. That's definitely something that has crossed my mind.

"I would be one of his coaches in a heartbeat because I have the utmost respect for him as a manager and as a person. I owe a lot to him."

NOTES: The Rays re-signed pitcher Kevin McGlinchy to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training. The right-hander, who spent the season on the disabled list with shoulder problems, was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay last month. He refused the assignment and became a free agent. ... Catcher John Flaherty was one of more than 70 players who filed for free agency Monday. Agent Alan Nero said a return to the Rays hasn't been ruled out but said Flaherty wants to explore opportunities to be an everyday catcher. ... Pitcher Dewon Brazelton will speak to about 2,500 students, teachers and officials from the Pinellas County Education Foundation's Doorways program 11 a.m. today at Tropicana Field.

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