ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Quatraro was working for the Rays in the Dominican Republic when he received a phone call. Out of nowhere for him, the Indians were expressing interest in adding him to their Major League staff as an assistant hitting coach.
"I was shocked," Quatraro said on Saturday. "My boss called and said, 'Are you interested in interviewing for this?' I said, 'Yeah, absolutely.' It all happened in three days, start to finish."
This series against Tampa Bay has given Quatraro a chance to reconnect with some of his former colleagues from the Rays' organization. The 40-year-old played was selected by Tampa Bay in the eighth round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, played in the farm system from '96-2002 and went on to fill a variety of coaching and managerial roles in the organization.
As Cleveland was evaluating whether to give hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo an assistant to help split up the duties among the hitters, Quatraro's name kept coming up.
"There are a lot of hitters and a lot of information now," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "So having an assistant, we thought, was good. When you come to that, OK, then you have to have somebody who can work hand in hand, because that's important. So we looked more at attributes than names, originally. Q's name came up repeatedly.
"Since the day he's been here, he's been terrific. We're thrilled to have him. He's been a great addition."
After the Rays hired manager Joe Maddon, Quatraro said everyone within the organization was challenged to break away from strict traditional thinking.
"When Joe came, he just encouraged everybody to think outside the box," Quatraro said. "Anybody, bring any idea you had. Not be afraid to speak up, whether you were the Rookie ball manager or the Triple-A manager, whatever your role was. Above everything else, it was just about teaching."
Quatraro now sees similarities between the two organizations he has worked with in his career.
"There are a lot of them, yeah," Quatraro said. "Good people that are open to all kinds of ideas, and stress organization and family, good values and doing things the right way. All those things are very common things. There are a lot of similarities in the people and the front office and coaching staffs."