Cash in jovial mood for managerial debut

Cash in jovial mood for managerial debut

ST. PETERSBURG -- Contrary to what most figured, new Rays manager Kevin Cash slept well Sunday night in advance of his managing debut against the Orioles on Monday.

"Slept good, Easter Sunday meal, about 20 family members over [to my house in Tampa]," Cash said. "Kicked 'em out and went to bed. ... We had all the Easter [fare]. Ham, mac and cheese. That's all the kids eat, the mac and cheese."

In December, the Rays named the former "Devil Rays" catcher as the fifth manager in team history, succeeding 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.

Cash, 37, attended Tampa's Gaither High School and Florida State University, where he played infield when the Seminoles reached the 1999 College World Series. He becomes the youngest Major League manager since A.J. Hinch, who became the D-backs' manager at age 35 in 2009.

Cash noted that the early part of Monday felt comfortable.

"It was really good," Cash said. "A bunch of my family stayed at the Vinoy. I got up this morning early and had breakfast with my dad at the Vinoy. We talked. He's excited. I'm excited.

"I'm comfortable simply because I'm comfortable with what's in that clubhouse. The players, the coaches prepared for six weeks. No more nerves, not even close to that first introductory speech in Spring Training."

Cash laughed when asked if there was a moment when his father told him he taught him everything he knew managing.

"He didn't say that, but I'm sure he wanted to," Cash said. "It was good. It was quiet. No kids around. So we enjoyed it for about 30 minutes. Then I came over here and a bunch of guys were already here, so pretty cool."

Cash said they did talk "a little bit" about baseball.

"But it was more we were talking where he needs to go, what gate he needs to go in to get in here," Cash said.

Cash laughed again when he recalled his first Opening Day as a player.

"It was in Toronto, [Roy] Halladay was pitching, I was catching, and they cut the lights off in the SkyDome and they had dancers," Cash said. "I mean, they put on this crazy thing. So we had two lamps in the bullpen and I'm trying to catch Roy Halladay cutting and sinking." He demonstrated how Halladay's pitches were darting. "I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. As long as the fans had a good experience."

Cash followed with more humor when asked if he played that day.

"Yeah, but every time I hit it was always like the lights were off," he said.

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