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Martinez wouldn't mind sticking around as coach

Dave Martinez isn't going to know what to do with himself next week when his interim gig as first base-outfield coach ends.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 20, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Dave Martinez isn't going to know what to do with himself next week when his interim gig as first base-outfield coach ends.

But he wouldn't mind getting back on the field some time soon.

Martinez's stint filling in as George Hendrick recovered from knee surgery has been educational. Martinez learned that he liked being a big-league coach, and Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon learned that he's good at it.

"He's an excellent baseball coach," Maddon said. "He's opinionated. He's not afraid to say something before it happens, and I love that about him. He can coach a lot of different areas of the game, not just outfield. He's good during the games, he sees a lot of things, he makes a lot of nice observations. He could coach for anybody. He's a championship-caliber coach."

Martinez, who retired as a player in 2001, had been content coaching his son's AAU team, spending time with his wife and three other kids, and working as a Rays spring instructor. But now the Clearwater resident is willing to consider getting back in the game full time.

"I think I'd really like to do it, now that I've got involved and got a taste of it," said Martinez, 42. "It's been a learning experience. I'm glad I was able to help out as much as I can. It's easier when you have guys that really want to work and are eager to learn. That made my transition a lot easier."

EAGER EDDIE: RHP Edwin Jackson said he can't wait to get back on the mound tonight after a poor outing Saturday in which he was admittedly not aggressive enough to succeed, walking five and lasting just three innings.

"I was ready the next day," he said. "With games like that, it always seems to take longer for your next start to come, for you to show it's not going to be like that all the time."

Jackson said he's looking at what happened Saturday similar to his one rough spring outing, from which he rebounded to win the No. 5 starter's job: "You came too far to let one outing deteriorate everything you worked for. It's the same thing."

MORE WITH LESS: Rookie OF Elijah Dukes, who seemed to break a 2-for-24 slump with two hits and a walk Wednesday, said his struggles were the result of trying to do too much at the plate. "There was a little bit of a mudslide going on with me," he said.

BIG EVENTS: The Rays will mark the 20th anniversary of U.S. Special Operations Command on Tuesday with a salute to the 57,000 active service men and women, including a first-pitch appearance by U.S. Army Major Thomas J. Deierlein, a veteran of operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield who was severely wounded in Iraq. Outfield tickets are half price for active military personnel. ... On Monday, they'll have their own QB controversy when Buc Chris Simms and former Buc Brian Griese throw out the first pitches.

MISCELLANY: The Rockies are among teams that have inquired about demoted 2B Jorge Cantu, but nothing appears imminent. ... All-Star balloting has started online at mlb.com and devilrays.com. ... 3B Akinori Iwamura, through Wednesday's games, is second in the AL with a .491 on-base percentage.