Manager search down to two after Ibanez withdraws

Manager search down to two after Ibanez withdraws

ST. PETERSBURG -- Raul Ibanez has dropped out of consideration to become the manager of the Rays due to family reasons.

So unless the Rays decide to add more candidates at this late date, Don Wakamatsu or Kevin Cash will become the fifth manager in team history. That decision is expected to be made as early as Friday.

Ibanez released the following statement through the Rays:

"I am very appreciative of the opportunity to be considered for the Rays manager, but I have decided to withdraw my name as a candidate. At the heart of my decision is my desire to spend more time with my family. We delayed announcing my decision because I did not want it to be a disruption in the Rays' selection process. I have the utmost respect for the organization and am confident they will hire the best-suited person for the position."

Matt Silverman, Rays president of baseball operations, said in a statement that the Rays understood and respected Ibanez's decision, adding: "We enjoyed the chance to get to know him better, and we continue to hold him in high regard."

Whoever is selected will succeed popular skipper Joe Maddon, who ended his nine-year tenure with the team by exercising an opt-out clause in his contract before agreeing to a five-year, $25 million deal to manage the Cubs.

Ibanez, 42, recently completed his 19th season in the Major Leagues as a first baseman, outfielder and designated hitter, finishing the campaign with the American League champion Kansas City Royals. He has amassed 305 career home runs and 2,034 hits while playing for the Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels. Ibanez's consideration for the position spoke volumes about his character given the fact that he had no previous managing experience.

Cash, 36, attended Tampa's Gaither High School and Florida State, where he played infield when the Seminoles reached the 1999 College World Series.

Cash subsequently converted to catcher during a stint in the Cape Cod League, and the Blue Jays signed him. He went on to spend eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Red Sox, Yankees and Astros. Known for his defensive skills behind the plate, Cash last played in the Major Leagues during the 2010 season. He retired after spending the 2011 season with Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers' organization. Cash earned two World Series rings while playing for the 2007 Red Sox and the 2009 Yankees.

Cash worked as an advance scout for the Blue Jays in 2012, and in '13, he joined the Indians' coaching staff, on which he's currently employed as the bullpen coach. He does not have managing experience.

If Cash is hired, he will be the youngest Major League manager since A.J. Hinch became the D-backs' manager at 35 in 2009.

Of all the announced candidates, Wakamatsu, 51, had the most extensive resume from a traditional sense. He was the Royals' bench coach and has Major League managing experience with the Mariners in 2009-10. Prior to that, Wakamatsu managed four seasons in the Minor Leagues and first coached in the Major Leagues with the Angels in 2001. He was the first Asian-American manager in the Major Leagues.

All told, Wakamatsu has managed 737 games between his time in the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues. He is said to have a calming style and is dry in comparison to the flashy, fun-loving personality of Maddon, who liked to do outlandish things in the clubhouse.

After nine years of Maddon's way, a change to a less flamboyant skipper could indicate that every act has a shelf life.

The Rays announced on Nov. 6 the following names as preliminary candidates for their vacant managerial post: Ibanez, Dave Martinez, Charlie Montoyo, Manny Acta, Ron Wotus, Wakamatsu, Craig Counsell and Cash. Days later, they added Barry Larkin and Doug Glanville to the mix, giving them 10 candidates.

On Nov. 21, Tampa Bay narrowed the field by seven candidates to Cash, Ibanez and Wakamatsu.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.