When the Tampa Bay Rays announced the final three candidates for their managerial opening, it was a bit strange that bench coach Dave Martinez was not amongst them. Of course, Martinez never had any managerial experience unlike finalist, and Royals bench coach, Don Wakamatsu. Then again, neither had Kevin Cash, but he was a coach. The decision to exclude Martinez could just have been a matter of the Rays wanting to change directions after Joe Maddon left.
The biggest surprise, probably more than the exclusion of Martinez, was that Raul Ibanez was a finalist. After all, Ibanez was still an active player last year, splitting his time between the Angels and the Royals. While he may not have produced at a rate resembling a major league hitter any longer, Ibanez had value far beyond his .167/.264/.285 batting line. He was considered to be a manager in the making, and an added coach on the bench for the Royals.
Perhaps that reputation was why the Rays were interested in Ibanez as a manager, despite his lack of any actual coaching experience. However, as interesting as it would be to see Ibanez leading the Rays, that will not happen. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Ibanez withdrew his name from consideration as the Rays next manager.
It may be that one day, the expectation that Raul Ibanez will become a coach, or even a manager, in the majors will come to fruition. His presence, leadership abilities and ability to mentor younger players would certainly make Ibanez appear to be the perfect manager or coach for a young team in need of a veteran to guide them. As Ibanez managed a 19 year major league career, despite not becoming a regular until the age of 29, he could be an example of perseverance, especially in the minors.
It seems likely that Raul Ibanez will be a coach someday. It just won’t be with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015.