Martinez excited to team with Maddon in Chicago
Bench coach who began playing career with Cubs ready to enjoy homecoming
CHICAGO -- Dave Martinez had hoped to be a big league manager in 2015, taking over the Rays for Joe Maddon. Instead, he'll celebrate a homecoming as Martinez returns to the Cubs and Wrigley Field, where he made his Major League debut back in 1986.
Martinez was Maddon's bench coach for seven seasons in Tampa Bay, and that relationship will continue with the Cubs. Martinez does have an edge over Maddon, who takes over as Cubs manager. The Cubs' third-round pick in 1983, Martinez played four seasons with the team (1986-88, 2000) and knows Wrigley Field's quirks. Maddon got his first look inside the Cubs' ballpark during an Interleague series last June.
"I told him on the bus, 'You're really going to appreciate baseball once you see Wrigley,'" Martinez said by phone Wednesday. "After the first game, on the way back to the hotel, he looked at me and said, 'That was impressive.'"
Maddon isn't used to playing so many home day games and has said he'll rely on Martinez, 50, for advice.
"One thing [Maddon] likes is to make sure the guys get plenty of rest," Martinez said. "He'd rather see quality not quantity, and we've been really good at that [with the Rays]."
When Maddon left Tampa Bay, taking advantage of an opt-out clause in his contract, Martinez interviewed for the opening. But Kevin Cash got the job, and Martinez resigned in late November.
"It was definitely disappointing," Martinez said. "I felt like I was groomed for the job and I knew everything. I knew what needed to happen moving forward.
"They decided they wanted a totally different voice and a different face. That being said, I thought it would be best for me and my family to do something else and go somewhere else. I have no ill feelings about anything -- we had a great run and I met some unbelievable people and a lot of those guys are like family to me. Moving forward, I'm a Chicago Cub and I know this will be a blessing for me and my family. Hopefully, we bring a championship to Wrigley."
Martinez knows the Cubs' front office well after interviewing for that managerial opening prior to the 2014 season. He predicted Maddon will make it very interesting with the Cubs. Could there be a blues band in the clubhouse? Who knows?
"He'll throw stuff at me and say, 'What do you think about this? What do you think about that?' That's just who he is," Martinez said. "I like it -- it keeps things loose and fun.
"Spring Training is going to be a lot different than you've ever seen. We want guys to wake up and say, 'Hey, I can't wait to get to the ballpark.'"
Martinez has been watching video to familiarize himself with the players. Now a father of four, he's eager to get back to Chicago.
"It's really like me coming to my second home," Martinez said.