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Martinez enjoying role as bench coach

Martinez enjoying role as bench coach

OAKLAND -- Dave Martinez recorded the first hit in Rays' history. He'd like to be part of the Rays' first postseason appearance.

Martinez, in his first season as bench coach, spent 17 years playing in the Major Leagues and reached the postseason once, in his last season as a player with the Atlanta Braves in 2001. He doesn't think it will take that long with the Rays.

"One of my jobs is to keep players motivated," Martinez said before Monday's game against the Oakland Athletics. "That's not a problem with this group. They have been working hard and really believe they have a chance to win.

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"A lot of these guys had no Minor League experience," added Martinez. "They were pushed quickly through the system and had to learn at the big league level. They took their bumps and bruises."

Martinez was out of baseball for three years when Rays manager Joe Maddon called him to inquire of his availability to help out in Spring Training. He'd never thought of a coaching career before then.

"I found that I enjoyed being around the guys," Martinez said. "Now I do things that give Joe more time to do what he has to do. He's been a great teacher and friend and I'm happy to be where I am."

Maddon, who was raised in the Angels organization, liked the way Martinez played during his career and thought he would make a good coach, even if Martinez had never considered it.

"We're lucky we were able to attract him," Maddon said. "He's such a great student of the game. I knew he would make a great coach from the way he played the game."

Martinez was the starting right fielder for the Rays in each of their first three seasons. He played 261 games for Tampa Bay and remains fourth on the team's all-time assists list (22) among outfielders.

Martinez's next assist will come as an instructor.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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