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With three finalists, Rays begin interviews

Cash, Ibanez, Wakamatsu are candidates to manage team in 2015
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays went from 10 managerial candidates to three on Friday. Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu compose the final group from which the organization plans to make its choice for Joe Maddon's successor.

The interviews started on Tuesday, starting with Wakamatsu.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays went from 10 managerial candidates to three on Friday. Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu compose the final group from which the organization plans to make its choice for Joe Maddon's successor.

The interviews started on Tuesday, starting with Wakamatsu.

"We were very impressed by the 10 finalists we interviewed, and could have envisioned any of them managing our club," said Matt Silverman, president, baseball operations. "The decision on Dave Martinez [most recently the Rays' bench coach] was especially difficult. He's played a key role in our organization's evolution, and he's done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture. We're excited to get to know our three remaining finalists better as we look to name our next manager in the coming weeks."

The other candidates who interviewed for the Rays' job were Martinez, Ron Wotus, Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville, Charlie Montoyo, Manny Acta, and Craig Counsell.

Cash, 36, has spent the past two seasons as the Indians' bullpen coach. He caught eight seasons in the Major Leagues and played all but 20 games in the American League East, including a stint with Tampa Bay in 2005.

Prior to joining the Indians, Cash spent the 2012 season as a Major League advance scout for the Blue Jays. The Tampa native played in the 1989 Little League World Series for Tampa Northside, graduated from Gaither High School in 1997, and played three seasons for Florida State University, including a trip to the 1999 College World Series.

Ibanez, 42, recently completed his 19th season in the Major Leagues as a first baseman, outfielder and DH, finishing the campaign with the AL 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 was named a 2009 National League All-Star, and is a four-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for his community involvement. He attended Miami Sunset High School and Miami-Dade Community College.

Wakamatsu, 51, recently finished his first year as the Royals' bench coach. It was his 17th season coaching or managing professionally, and 10th as a Major League bench coach after filling the role for the Rangers, Athletics and Blue Jays.

Wakamatsu managed 274 games for the Mariners in 2009-10, becoming the first Asian-American manager in Major League history. After graduating from Arizona State University, he went on to catch 12 seasons professionally, including 18 games with the White Sox in 1991.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays