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McHale talks hit snag

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- The restructuring of the Rays ownership group may be hindering the efforts to hire John McHale Jr. as chief operating officer.

Though it has been widely reported that Vince Naimoli's power was supposed to be reduced when he was promoted to chairman under an arrangement announced nearly two weeks ago, Naimoli has been telling people repeatedly that he still is in charge of the team.

Meanwhile, the talks with McHale, president and CEO of the Tigers, have taken longer than some expected.

Though it was believed negotiations would be concluded by this week, it now appears a deal, if one is to be made, may not be completed until next week.

The Rays have said very little publicly about the situation, which likely is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for both sides the longer it goes on.

Naimoli said only that the team had identified five candidates for the COO job, and the general partners have made no comments. A team official said Wednesday there were no new developments in the situation.

McHale, who interviewed for the job last week at an undisclosed central Florida location, has also been limited in his comments.

"I don't want to characterize the process and I'm not able to say anything about it," McHale said from his Comerica Park suite Wednesday night.

"It will proceed as it proceeds. There is no external timetable on the group."

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