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Maddon staff nearly settled

Foley, Henderson, Butcher, Ramos expected to join Rays manager.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 18, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - New Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon returns to his California home today with his coaching staff close to taking shape.

Four positions are expected to be filled by incumbent third-base coach Tom Foley, Rays minor-league hitting coordinator Steve Henderson, Angels minor-league pitching instructor Mike Butcher and Angels minor-league catching instructor Bobby Ramos, a former Rays minor-league manager.

Butcher, a former big-league reliever, would be the pitching coach and Henderson the hitting coach, a role he filled in 1998 before taking the minor-league job, where he worked with many of the current Rays.

"If (Maddon) wants me, I'd be happy to help the kids out," said Henderson, a Tampa resident.

Foley and Ramos' roles could depend on how Maddon fills the two remaining spots, for which there appear to be at least three candidates: incumbent first-base coach Billy Hatcher, Triple-A manager Bill Evers and former Astros bench coach John Tamargo.

From that group, Maddon needs a bench coach (Foley or Tamargo?), a bullpen coach (Ramos or Evers?) and two base coaches. One of the coaches is likely to also have the title of defensive coordinator.

Maddon hopes to announce the full staff in the next few days.

"I've got to talk to some people on the phone and then we'll make our decisions," Maddon said. "It's going to be a great working group and a very communicative group. I'm really excited about some of the names we're talking about."

Hamilton's days numbered?

When the Rays set their 40-man roster by tonight's midnight deadline, there is a chance troubled prospect Josh Hamilton will no longer be part of the organization.

Indications are that Hamilton was put on waivers this week, which means though 1 p.m. today he can be claimed by any team for a $20,000 fee. Though Hamilton remains suspended indefinitely due to multiple drug violations, several teams are likely to have interest since Hamilton only has to be kept on the 40-man roster for about two months before being returned to the restricted list.

The Rays gave Hamilton a $3.96-million bonus as the top pick in the 1999 draft but the multi-talented outfielder has not played since July 2002. If Hamilton is not claimed, the Rays can keep him in their organization.

The Rays are likely to add three top prospects to their roster - first baseman Wes Bankston, catcher Shawn Riggans and pitcher Jamie Shields. Candidates to be dropped include reliever Joe Beimel and catcher Pete LaForest. With Hamilton, the roster is at 39.

Also:

MLB owners unanimously approved Stuart Sternberg's takeover of control of the Rays from Vince Naimoli, who made his farewell appearance representing the team at a meeting in Milwaukee.

Sternberg has been running the team since the Oct. 6 announcement, but was not official until Thursday, when he left the room for about four minutes and the owners voted him in.

"It went very smoothly," Sternberg said. "It's six weeks to the day, and it feels a little more official to me. It's been a foregone conclusion, but to have the other 29 guys and (MLB president) Bob DuPuy and the commissioner there, it felt a little bit different."

Team officials and staff served 360 Thanksgiving dinners at the St. Vincent de Paul center.

Outfielder Jonny Gomes was named to the Topps rookie all-star team.

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