Owner Stuart Sternberg says Rays can recover from losses of Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Florida — Tampa Bay principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays can recover from the losses of general manager Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon.

Friedman left to head baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Maddon terminated his Tampa Bay contract to manage the Chicago Cubs.

"Change is good. We embrace change," Sternberg said Thursday. "I'm as frightened of it as anybody, but we manage it. We've been successful managing it in the past, and we look forward to the opportunities it creates for us."

Sternberg paused briefly when asked which departure took him more by surprise.

"It's a tough call. I hadn't thought about it until now," he said. "I would say most likely Joe."

Friedman's opportunity with the big-spending Dodgers was "clearly the biggest enchilada out there," according to Sternberg, and the 38-year-old executive "felt it was time to move on."

The Rays have asked Major League Baseball to investigate tampering on the part of the Cubs, but Sternberg said they have not received a response.

"Look, we wish him nothing but success, and I wish him well certainly," Sternberg said. "There's no hard feelings at all. He's a guy that, no matter what he does going forward, he's going to be linked to this organization and this franchise for the rest of his life."

Matt Silverman moved over from another front-office position to replace Friedman, and the Rays hired 37-year-old Kevin Cash to replace Maddon.

While the Rays traded popular utility player Ben Zobrist and outfielder Wil Myers just a year after Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year award, Sternberg said they resisted the temptation to gut the payroll.

Sternberg expressed frustration over the lack of progress on finding a location for a ballpark to replace Tropicana Field. The St. Petersburg City Council voted in December not to allow the Rays to pursue a stadium site outside the city but in the area.

"It's a process," Sternberg said. "Whether it's passing that day or the next time through, time is starting to run a bit shorter. ... When nothing gets done in the offseason, every year it gets delayed, it's one year closer to other alternatives."

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