St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Schedule
The Trop
The Trop
Getting to the Trop
Best routes
Parking
Interactive
Rays forum
The art of pitching
Links
Devil Rays' official home site
Talk baseball in our Devil Rays forum



Print storySubscribe to the Times

Hunsicker near agreement to join Rays

The former Astros GM would join in time to help pick from among three managerial finalists.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 2, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - After cutting the field of managerial candidates to three, the Devil Rays on Tuesday night moved to the verge of a bigger acquisition, closing in on a deal to land former Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker to play a key role in their front office.

A multiyear deal with Hunsicker could be completed today and announced as soon as Thursday.

Hunsicker's path to the Rays was cleared Tuesday when the Phillies decided instead to hire Pat Gillick as their general manager. The Dodgers and Red Sox still have openings, but indications Tuesday night were that Hunsicker was headed to Tampa Bay, where he will work with Andrew Friedman, the Rays' 28-year-old chief of baseball operations. It is not yet clear what their job titles will be.

Hunsicker, 55, spent nine years as GM of the Astros, resigning after the 2004 season for still undisclosed reasons, and played a key role in building the team that reached the World Series this season and fell one game short the year before, combining young homegrown talent with key acquisitions.

Assuming final details are worked out, one of Hunsicker's first tasks will be to help the Rays choose a manager. Tuesday they named incumbent bench coach John McLaren and Angels bench coach Joe Maddon as finalists and also said Bobby Valentine, whom they have yet to formally interview because he is still managing in Japan, remained in contention.

They plan to conduct followup interviews with McLaren and Maddon at next week's general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., and expect to make a hire by Nov. 15.

"We think the Devil Rays would be very well served by any of these potential managers," team president Matt Silverman said.

Though Valentine has the most impressive credentials, having spent 15 seasons managing the Rangers and Mets before leading Chiba Lotte to the Japan Series title, he remains a longshot to join the Rays. They are unlikely to approach the $3-million a year he is making in Japan, with reports of a more lucrative extension pending, and can't match his long-term relationship with the Dodgers, who reportedly are planning an aggressive pursuit.

Most likely, the Rays will pick between Maddon and McLaren, who followed similar career paths to become top major-league coaches but don't have major-league managing experience beyond occasional fill-in work.

"We thought given the places they are in their careers and their personalities, they are well suited to lead our clubhouse as it's currently composed and as we expect it to be composed in current years," Silverman said.

"We're inclined to give someone an opportunity to prove himself as a major-league manager, but it will be important if it's either of these two to assemble an experienced coaching staff."

Both Maddon and McLaren have had other opportunities: Maddon has interviewed for managing jobs with the Angels (who hired Terry Collins and Mike Scioscia), the D'backs (Bob Melvin), the Mariners (Mike Hargrove) and the Red Sox (Terry Francona); McLaren has interviewed with the Mariners (Melvin) and the Reds (Dave Miley).

But both are confident this is the right opportunity.

Maddon: "Based on my observations of the (new ownership/management) group and what they told me, I think I really fit in with that group. ... I'm willing to be patient. I like to build. I'm a development person at heart. ... I think my talents and my skills fit well with what the organization needs right now. ... There so many positive things going on, I think the future looks really bright there. ... It seems like a nice place to see if what you think works, works."

McLaren: "My background has been in development and I've had the luxury of coaching 20 years in the big leagues. I've gotten to know these players the last three years, and I'd like to take the reins from here and keep this thing going. ... I like what (the new group has) had to say. It's exciting to the town and it's excited me. ... I just think it's a good fit. Hopefully I can leave them with the impression that I'm the guy. ... I think this is my time."

The six candidates who didn't make the cut were Rays coaches Tom Foley and Billy Hatcher, Triple-A manager Bill Evers, former Tigers manager Alan Trammel, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. The Rays also interviewed Joe Girardi, who was hired by the Marlins.

Foley and Hatcher, who have been with the Rays since the start, could end up staying on the big-league staff. Silverman said the new manager will have flexibility in forming his staff but will be "encouraged" to at least consider the current coaches, who are signed through 2006. Evers is expected to return to Durham.

Also, the Rays picked up their half of a $1.4-million mutual option with Casey Fossum. The left-hander has until Friday to decide whether to exercise his half or go through arbitration.

[Last modified November 2, 2005, 00:47:16]

Today's lineup
Rays
Hunsicker near agreement to join Rays
The finalists

Bucs
Rice: Missed meeting was 'an honest mistake'
No time to let QB out of the sack

Lightning
Atlanta all powerful
Bolts young only at heart

Other sports

Baseball
  • Veteran exec Gillick to join Phillies

  • College basketball
  • Got a minute? Jose Fernandez, USF women's BB coach
  • USF guard dismissed for behavior

  • College football
  • There's nothing iffy about FSU's readiness
  • FSU faces double threat in N.C. State ends

  • Colleges
  • FSU has big hopes in soccer tourney
  • A look back at the ultimate supporter
  • UF wins preseason opener

  • In brief
  • Soccer put ahead of religious holiday

  • NBA
  • Teen may set theme for Magic's season
  • A glance at the Magic roster
  • Spurs get rings, rally on Nuggets

  • NFL
  • 49ers tap ex-Gator Palmer to pick up quarterback slack

  • NHL
  • Osgood makes good in Red Wings' streak

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • All things football
  • CCC wins seventh in a row
  • Hurt can't deter this recruit
  • Knight time caught on tape
  • Largo back has one shot
  • PHU shows no signs of faltering
  • Pinellas players of the week
  • Warhawks start on the right foot
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     


     Devil Rays Forums
    From The Wire
  • Players, teams start rush to settle in arbitration
  • AP source: Yankees sign free agent RHP Kuroda
  • AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap
  • Resop, Pirates agree to a one-year deal
  • Zambrano says he's happy with trade to Marlins
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week