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Dave Martinez never has managed before, but he knows Cubs

New York Yankees v TampBay Rays

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

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Updated: November 19, 2013 6:42AM



Nobody the Cubs can hire as their next manager will come close to bringing the buzz and instant credibility that first-choice Joe Girardi would have.

But if there’s one guy left on the interview list who might bring a saleable quality to the podium at an introductory news conference, it’s the guy who interviewed Thursday: former Cubs outfielder Dave Martinez.

The Tampa Bay Rays bench coach has been one of the hotter managerial prospects in the game in recent years. Last year, he was edged out by Bo Porter for the Houston Astros job.

‘‘Every year that I have under my belt, I’m a lot more confident and a lot more prepared for the challenges of being a manager,’’ Martinez told the St. Petersburg Times this week.

Martinez, 49, has no managing experience, even in the minors. But his six years alongside the universally respected Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay — plus his own respected work in an organization considered a model for player development, roster management and applied analytics — have put him on a short list of rising-star coaches.

And don’t underestimate the value of his experience playing for the Cubs. Martinez is the only candidate on the list with that qualification.

‘‘To say this is just another job would be fooling oneself,’’ president Theo Epstein said 2½ weeks ago on the day he announced Dale Sveum’s firing. ‘‘There are unique elements that go into the job here.

‘‘I think candidates who have Cubs experience in their background will have the built-in advantage of knowing some of the idiosyncrasies of the marketplace and the franchise and might be better equipped in that one area to deal with the gauntlet that at times can be managing the Cubs.’’

When Martinez was rumored to be in the mix for the White Sox job two years ago, Maddon said his bench coach was ready to manage and raved about his ability to handle players in the clubhouse as well as his game preparation and quick thinking.

‘‘It would be tremendous,’’ Martinez told the Times when asked about the Cubs job. ‘‘I love the idea of being part of winning a championship in Chicago. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.’’

Former Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch, former Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta and San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria also have interviewed.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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