Dave Martinez did not make the final cut for the Rays’ vacated manager’s post. Now he has decided not to return in his role as the team’s bench coach. Martinez released the following statement Tuesday:
“I informed the Rays this week that I have chosen to move forward and consider other opportunities that may present themselves outside the organization,” Martinez said. “It was a hard decision that I think is best for myself and the Rays. I want to thank our fans for their overwhelming support. It has meant the world to my family and me. For the past nine years, the players and staff have been an extension of my family and the memories that we have all shared and the relationships that have been built will stay with me forever. I can’t thank them enough for all they have meant to me.”
Martinez, 50, has spent the past seven seasons as the Rays bench coach next to Joe Maddon, who was named the Cubs manager on Nov. 3. Martinez had one more year on his contract as the team’s bench coach. He was not one of the final three candidates for the Rays’ managerial opening.
The Cubs do not have an opening on their coaching staff, but with Maddon signing a five-year deal, he most likely would want someone on the staff he is familiar with. The Cubs recently added Henry Blanco to the staff as a quality assurance coach. Brandon Hyde was Rick Renteria’s bench coach this past season.
– Carrie Muskat
Jon Lester is still on the market, and the Cubs are still an active bidder. Lester planned on talking to at least two teams this week. So far, the free agent lefty has met with the Red Sox, Cubs, and Braves, and was reportedly going to meet with the Cardinals and Giants. According to Boston reporters, the big spending Red Sox are still a possibility for Lester. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports the Red Sox and Cubs may pursue Cole Hamels if Lester is unavailable. However, the Phillies asking price for Hamels is high.
According to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, Lester could make a decision after Thanksgiving. The pitcher has said he isn’t looking for the biggest contract.
“When you get to a certain point, money can’t buy happiness,” Lester told CBSSports.com on Sept. 30. “That’s not what makes me happy. That’s not what makes me tick.”
Could Dave Martinez join Joe Maddon on the Cubs staff? According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Rays will not stand in Martinez’s way if the Cubs or another team requests to interview him for a coaching job. Martinez is under contract with the Rays through next season. Martinez was a candidate for the Rays managerial opening but was told last Friday that he was not one of the final three candidates.
Cubs Authentics has introduced the Wrigley Field Collection for fans looking to collect unique items from the ballpark. Cubs Authentics is the Cubs’ official provider of game-used and authenticated memorabilia. The Wrigley Field Collection will feature authenticated items in limited quantities throughout the season, including bleacher seats, flags, scoreboard tiles, signage and celebrity guest memorabilia, plus items related to Wrigley Field’s restoration and expansion.
Wrigley Field Collection items are available for purchase or bidding at http://www.cubs.com/authentics, beginning Monday with a limited number of Wrigley Field flags plus Budweiser Bleacher seats and aisle placards recently removed from the ballpark. Additional items, such as “W” flags flown over the ballpark after home wins and swatch items with authenticated infield dirt, will become available during the 2015 season and throughout the course of the restoration process.
In addition to memorabilia made available for sale to fans, the Cubs and Cubs Authentics continue to preserve historic elements of the ballpark and game-used gear for the team’s archives. Some items, such as bricks from Wrigley Field’s original bleacher construction, will be re-used in the restored Wrigley Field as possible. Others, such as unique signage or equipment used during noteworthy games, are stored securely in the Cubs Archives.
Cubs Authentics can be found at the following locations:
* The Cubs Store, 3620 N. Clark Street, across from Wrigley Field
* Online at http://www.cubs.com/authentics
* Memorabilia also can be purchased over the phone at (773) 404-4753 or by emailing CubsAuthentics@cubs.com
Henry Blanco is back with the Cubs, joining manager Joe Maddon’s staff as a quality assurance coach. It might not be the only change. Blanco, 43, who played for the Cubs from 2005-08, was a coach on the Diamondbacks staff.
In December 2013, Blanco signed a Minor League League deal with the Diamondbacks, but was released on March 31 this year, ending a 16-year career as a player. He then joined Arizona manager Kirk Gibson’s staff as a coach.
Blanco replaces Jose Castro, who took a job on the Braves staff as an assitant hitting coach, and is the first add to Maddon’s staff with the Cubs. There could be more. Dave Martinez, who has been Maddon’s bench coach since 2008 with the Rays, was dropped on Friday from the list of candidates for the Tampa managerial opening. Martinez, 50, also is a former Cubs player — 1986-88 — and may be a valuable addition for Maddon in his switch to the National League.
The Cubs announced the coaching staff in early October, but that was before Maddon was named as manager. Rick Renteria was dismissed Oct. 31, and Maddon named the Cubs skipper three days later after he opted out of his contract with the Rays. Pitching coach Chris Bosio and hitting coach John Mallee were both expected on Maddon’s staff.
– Carrie Muskat
Christian Villanueva went 2-for-5 in Obregon’s 7-3 loss Friday to Los Mochis in Mexican winter ball. Villanueva is batting .254.
Junior Lake drew two walks and scored a run in Estrellas’ 2-1 win Friday over Licey in the Dominican Republic. Lake is batting .241. Arismendy Alcantara was 0-for-3 for Licey in the game, and is batting .235 this winter. He’s been playing both center field and second base.
Manny Ramirez is playing for Aguilas in the DR, and batting .289 in 22 games with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
On a side note, former Cubs prospects Brooks Raley and Austin Bibens-Dirkx squared off in the Dominican. Neither got a decision. Bibens-Dirkx gave up one run on four hits over five innings for Toros del Este, while Raley gave up one run on eight hits and two walks for Gigantes del Cibao. Bibens-Dirkx is now in the Blue Jays organization, and Raley is in the Angels’ system.
Jonathan Mota was 1-for-3 with a double and scored a run for Senadores while John Andreoli was 0-for-5 in a 3-2 loss to Caguas in Puerto Rico. Mota was batting .250, while Andreoli was hitting .224 in winter ball.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, bench coach Dave Martinez is no longer in the running for the Rays managerial opening. Perhaps Martinez will join Joe Maddon on the Cubs coaching staff? Martinez actually interviewed for the Cubs manager’s job prior to last season. Rick Renteria was named manager, and then dismissed to make room for Maddon, who became available when he opted out of his contract. Martinez was the Cubs’ third-round Draft pick in 1983, and played for the team from 1986-88, and again in 2000.
Topkin reports that Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu are the three finalists for the Rays job.
“The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult,” said the Rays’ Matt Silverman.
The Cubs announced their 2015 coaching staff in early October but Renteria was expected to be the manager at that time. When Maddon was hired on Nov. 3, Cubs executives said there could be some changes to the staff.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs will have to wait a little longer for Jon Lester to make a decision regarding where he wants to pitch next year. According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lester will meet with at least two more teams next week. The free agent pitcher already has talked to the Cubs, Red Sox, and Braves. The Cubs made their push on Tuesday when Lester visited Chicago.
Getting players to make decisions at Thanksgiving has been one of Theo Epstein’s strong points. In 2003, Epstein and Jed Hoyer, then in the Red Sox front office, had Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling, part of their effort to get the right-hander to drop the no-trade clause in his contract and accept being traded to Boston.
“If we didn’t sign Curt, it probably would have been the worst Thanksgiving of my life,” Epstein said in 2003. “We tried to refuse [the invitation], and Curt said it was a deal breaker, they would be insulted if we didn’t go.”
Lester most likely will spend Thanksgiving at home.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs are headed back to Las Vegas to play the Athletics in split squad Spring Training games March 13-14. The Cubs were already scheduled to play host to the Indians on March 13 at Cubs Park and travel to Maryvale, Ariz., to face the Brewers on March 14. Game times have not been determined for the Chicago vs. Oakland games at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.
The two games against the Athletics are in addition to the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule, which was released last month. The Cubs open Spring Training on March 5 with split-squad games against the A’s at Cubs Park and against the Giants in Scottsdale. This is Chicago’s second Spring Training at their new facility in Mesa, Ariz.
The Cubs’ Cactus League schedule includes 15 games at Cubs Park and 16 road games.
The Cubs and White Sox will meet twice with a game March 20 in Glendale and another game March 27 in Mesa. The Cubs conclude Cactus League play on April 1 against the Brewers at Cubs Park.
Individual game tickets for Cubs home spring games go on sale Jan. 10 at 11 a.m. CT at the Cubs Park ticket office, on http://www.cubs.com, or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS. For season ticket and group ticket information, go to http://www.cubs.com/mesa or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo made a point of reaching out to Rick Renteria shortly after he was dismissed as the Cubs manager, but also has talked with new skipper Joe Maddon and can’t wait to start working with him. Rizzo, who was in Chicago Friday to promote his first “Laugh Off for Cancer” event Jan. 15, said the addition of Maddon was “exciting news.”
“It’s obviously tough losing Rick but it’s business,” Rizzo said. “With Joe, I can’t wait to start working with him. Speaking with him, everything is so on point with how I view the game of baseball as well.”
What did Maddon say that clicked?
“Seriously, everything,” Rizzo said. “The whole philosophy of not over-working, not doing too much, and getting your work done in a professional manner is something I preach. You’ve got to stay fresh in this game. That’s what I believe in.
“The family style that I feel like he’s going to bring will be unbelievable,” Rizzo said. “I don’t want to say too much because I want to get to know him more. I’m real excited from people I’ve talked to and have seen from afar.”
Rizzo hasn’t done any recruiting of free agents, including Jon Lester, who visited Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
“The best sales pitch I can give is that we’re an exciting team and this is Chicago,” Rizzo said.
The first baseman said the Cubs do have a good foundation of “impact players” and added that bringing in outside talent can’t hurt.
“If we bring the team back that we had last year, I’m confident we can win a lot more baseball games than we did last year,” he said.
The Cubs front office has said it wants to add some veteran players to the mix and Rizzo agreed that would help.
“I think it’s needed just to show some guys the ropes more, including myself — [guys] who have been there and done it,” Rizzo said. “We have a very talented group of players who we’re going to put on the field next year — there’s no doubt about it. Now it’s just about grooming all of us to be champions and winners and bringing in guys who have won before and have done it before can never hurt.”
Renteria had hoped to be at the helm this coming season but was dismissed in late October to make room for Maddon, who opted out of his contract with the Rays and became a free agent.
“It’s tough [for Renteria] but it’s also tough when a guy gets traded or released because of financial purposes or a guy gets sent down because he has an option and doesn’t deserve to be sent down,” Rizzo said. “It’s all part of the business. No one likes to see it happen. I called and just reached out and thanked [Renteria] for everything.”
And Renteria responded as Rizzo expected him to.
“Rick’s a great, positive person, and that’s what made him a good manager,” Rizzo said. “He always had our back, and he’ll still have our back watching from afar.”
– Carrie Muskat