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December 6, 2022

Kevin Cash

San Diego, California, USA

Tampa Bay Rays

Press Conference

Q. Kevin, probably the most significant news of the off-season so far has been some of the changes to your coaching staff. Can you kind of run through how that's going to work.

KEVIN CASH: Certainly excited about the guys coming in and very excited for Q and Hoove. I felt like coming into the off-season, I couldn't envision a more prepared guy or for a better opportunity for Q to get a job, and he's doing it with a good organization.

Happy that he's able to take Paul with him. So they will definitely be missed. But as far as the incoming guys, Rodney's moving down into the bench, excited for that. Really looking forward to our consistent in-game conversation.

Then Tomas, Jorge Moncada, and Brady Williams, it's going to be a fun dynamic. I think that can energize us certainly as, not veteran coaches, but more seasoned coaches, to help those guys along. They're all special in their own way.

Brady knows our players better than anybody, certainly our roster that we envision having. Jorge, with what he's done with the pitching group and leading that department as a coordinator, we've got a lot of talented pitching coaches, probably a good reason why we have a lot of talented pitches. Then with Tomas, I saw him a lot in Spring Training. His attention to detail, organization, likely that he'll be running Spring Training for us. So excited for that. And to work with our catchers.

Q. Obviously Curtis Mead is someone who has hit very, very well in the minors. How much have you seen of him, and what role do you envision him playing, if any, for next year?

KEVIN CASH: I haven't seen a ton of him. I've heard plenty of talk about him. I know his season ended a little shorter than we would hope but know that this off-season is going well with him so far.

No doubt very talented. As much as anybody in our organization, we're thrilled about his bat and the versatility that he's been at third, he's played some second. I would guess that with the right opportunity, he should be factored in at some point this year and look forward to seeing him in Spring Training.

Q. As a manager, you've had a lot of exciting young talents come up, and some guys take a little longer time to acclimate. What's it been like for you having year after year impact guys come through the organization?

KEVIN CASH: We're fortunate that we've got a lot of people that can evaluate talent and then help develop it. That's a credit to our scouting, our front office, and certainly player development. You're right, we do, it seems like every year somebody is knocking down the door to come impact the Big League club. More times than not, they are impacting the Big League club because they're just that good.

Q. Do you think that Brady can maybe help with -- some of the younger position players had a tough adjustment last year. Since he knows them so well and has seen them at their best, maybe he can be somewhat helpful maybe for the comfort level?

KEVIN CASH: Without a doubt. Brady is on our staff because he's earned it and deserves to be there, but Brady has seen a lot of these players at their best.

I think it's fair there were some tough goes. But that happens in the Big Leagues. There's a big gap between Triple-A and the Big Leagues right now, and who would be better than Brady that, when you see a guy playing with confidence, playing with a lot of energy, to give that little subtle reminder, hey, this is what you were doing, let's get back to that.

I think it will help and be a comfort for all of our young players.

Q. You talk about the lineup and the way things went south in the season. Obviously Erik has talked pretty openly about wanting to add to that group. But how much turnaround is going to come from these guys bouncing back?

KEVIN CASH: I will let Erik talk to the adding component. I think with health, a little luck, a little more timely hits, things will turn around. You look at the injuries we had and at-bats we're missing at different parts of the year between Brandon and Wander, certainly Mike Zunino, that's a lot of offense we had counted for and didn't get.

Get those guys healthy, and I'm confident will be better.

Q. Wander, during the off-season, he missed a lot of time. What are you looking for him now as he moves into his third season? His first two have been partial seasons.

KEVIN CASH: He's a stud. If he can stay healthy, he's going to do special things. Very, very talented. I felt for Wander through the year dealing with his injuries, for a guy that's played baseball most of his life, and certainly with the Rays, that never had any injury whatsoever, I mean nothing.

Went through the groin, went through a little hamstring, and the hamate bone, a freakish thing that happened. I'd like to think Wander is going to be better for all of that, what he went through, and know that he's extremely motivated to get on the field, stay on the field, and be the player we know he is.

Q. We see the year 3 breakout happen a lot. Do you think we will see that this year?

KEVIN CASH: Yeah. I'm not trying to put pressure on him, but yeah, he's that good.

Q. Have you had any conversations with Brandon? How's he doing as far as how his back goes?

KEVIN CASH: Good. Actually, I talked to Brandon shortly after -- when the season ended, and he was doing well. Just kind of got an update on all the injured players from Joe Benge, and it seems like we're in a good position. Brandon is going to start hitting and plans to have a normal off-season with his ramp-up to full swings and BP on the field and stuff like that.

So excited to see where he's at.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Matt Quatraro taking over at Kansas City. Your thoughts on him getting that opportunity.

KEVIN CASH: Super excited for Q. The last couple years he's interviewed, gone through the process. Before you sat down, I just commented on like just so prepared, so deserving. As much as anybody going into this off-season, I thought Q was as deserving as anybody. He'll do really good things over there.

It sounds like he's got an organization that is kind of a lot of talent, up and coming. It will be great.

Q. What about his personality do you think lends itself to sort of a leadership role as obviously someone who's going to be leading that clubhouse, leading that staff?

KEVIN CASH: There's a lot of good attributes about Q. I think with his personality, consistency really sticks out. The people that I've played for, the people that I've worked underneath, I've learned that consistency is important.

They want to see that day in and day out. Regardless of the win, the loss, if you can be the same guy, and he was that for the five years we were together.

Q. What is it about him that you wanted to bring him to the staff? Obviously he was in the organization, then went to Cleveland, and you guys brought him back.

KEVIN CASH: I think just his attention to detail. He was in the organization. Everybody thought so highly of him. He went to Cleveland for good reason, got an opportunity. When something opened up for our group, everybody kind of slammed the table like let's get him back here because he's a Ray, and he was very special to a lot of players' development.

And the impact that he had on the staff throughout the entire organization was just great.

Q. With the upcoming rule changes, banning shifts, pitch clocks, how do you think it will impact your decisions you have to make as a manager?

KEVIN CASH: Pitch clock, I'm thrilled about. Speed the game up. They get too long. If we're playing the Red Sox or playing the Yankees, they turn into four-hour ballgames. I'm not really sure how it impacts our pitchers. They'll figure it out.

The shift, we'll find out. I really don't know. Most left-handed hitters are probably going to say they're excited there's no shift. I think we'll find some pitchers saying they didn't like the shift, they're going to find out they did like the shift. But to be determined.

Q. Obviously the new rules emphasize stealing bases in terms of limit on pick-off throws. Do you envision giving the green light more, forcing the issue more, calling for more steals?

KEVIN CASH: I mean, when I give the green light, our guys go. We are known for they go. So I don't know if I can do it anymore. If I put red light on, they're still going to go.

Q. How much of a focal point will those rule changes be in Spring Training as you guys are going through for the first time learning how to handle the pick-off throws, the shifts and stuff like that?

KEVIN CASH: Chris Prieto is going to have a lot on his plate from that aspect. I think our players will take to it pretty good.

We'll find some strategic things about it. I don't know what they are yet, but we'll try to put our heads together and come up with good ideas that will prevent a team taking advantage of you and maybe us preventing taking advantage of the pitcher-catcher combo on the other side.

Q. You've got the Judge situation, the Bogaerts situation, key guys in your division --

KEVIN CASH: I think we're going to get them both.


Q. How much of a value do you put on those players?

KEVIN CASH: A lot. Look, they're very special players. Got to meet them and have conversations with them. I wish them well and hope it plays out the way that they deserve. They're very good players.

I'd be lying to say that, if Xander wasn't in a Red Sox uniform, I wouldn't cry, and same with Aaron.

Q. Even without that, this division, you won't be playing them as much.

KEVIN CASH: I'm thrilled with that. We're not playing them as much. It is going to be a grind. It's been a grind, I feel like, for quite some time. You've just got a lot of talented players, a lot of talented front offices, and player development that are competing at a high level.

You get tired of seeing it, but you know when you go into that city, whether it's Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore -- what they did was pretty spectacular. And they're only going to get better -- you've got your hands full.

But I think that's what makes it fun. You can be neck and neck for the entire summer, and nobody goes away, and you watch a team overcome injuries. When they have injuries, they might slip a little bit, and then they get healthy. It's a pretty unique division.

I would agree. You said it's the best. I feel that way as well.

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