ST. PETERSBURG — Rays bench coach Dave Martinez spent Thursday in Chicago interviewing with the Cubs front office for the managerial opening created last month when Dale Sveum was fired.
Of the four known candidates, Martinez is the only one with ties to the organization.
Judging by the remarks of Cubs president Theo Epstein on the day he fired Sveum, Martinez’s history with the organization could work to his advantage.
“To say this is just another job would be fooling oneself. There are unique elements that go into the job here,” Epstein told the Chicago media. “I think candidates who have Cubs experience in their background will have the built-in advantage of knowing some of the idiosyncrasies of the marketplace and the franchise and might be better equipped in that one area to deal with the gauntlet that at times can be managing the Cubs.”
Martinez was drafted by the Cubs in 1983 and played for the team from 1986-88 and again in 2000.
“When people ask me where I went to college I tell them, ‘The University of the Chicago Cubs,’ ” Martinez said. “They drafted me. They taught me how to be a major-league baseball player.”
The other candidates are former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch and Padres bench coach Rick Renteria.
While Martinez does not have any managerial experience on any level, he has spent the past six seasons as Joe Maddon’s bench coach, working on the innovative defensive shifts and helping to develop the organization’s young talent. The Cubs reportedly want a manager who can work with and develop the young players in the system.
Martinez said he felt the interview process went well. He arrived at Wrigley Field at 9:15 a.m., met with various members of the front office and didn’t leave the stadium until 6:15 p.m., when the interview process continued over dinner at Ditka’s, the famed steakhouse owned by former Bears Hall of Fame tight end and coach Mike Ditka.
“They said they’d get back to me real soon, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” Martinez said. “You go into this with a positive attitude, talk about a variety of things, and at the end of the day, you hope you’re in consideration.”
Guerrieri becomes club’s unlucky 13th
Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri became the 13th member of the Rays’ minor-league organization since 2012 to be suspended under the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The 50-game suspension was announced Friday and was the result of a second failed test by Guerrieri for a drug of abuse. Other prospects, like outfielder Josh Sale, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
On Friday, the Rays issued this statement: “Taylor’s actions are very disappointing. We will continue our work to educate him on the responsibilities he has not only to himself, but to his teammates, his coaches, the Rays organization and our fans.”
Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics talked about the suspensions last January during the club’s annual Winter Development Program for their top prospects. The Rays had seven minor-leaguers suspended in 2012 for either using PEDs or drugs of abuse.
“It is a continual education process from the day they get here,” Lukevics said. “We talk constantly about the do’s, don’ts and derailers that can take these kids where they shouldn’t go.”
The Rays have yet to release their 2014 spring training schedule, but the Orioles have. The Orioles open Feb. 28 against the Rays in Port Charlotte.