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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, struggling on and off the field, are turning to John McHale Jr. to guide them through tough times.
The team scheduled a news conference Tuesday to announce the hiring of McHale as chief operating officer. He will assume control of day-to-day operations handled by Vince Naimoli since the club’s inception.
McHale, 52, has been president and chief executive officer in Detroit since January 1995 and led the effort to fund and build Comerica Park. He spent more than three years as an executive vice president with the Colorado Rockies before joining the Tigers.
In Detroit, the Tigers said McHale was leaving to take the Tampa Bay job.
The hiring comes a little more than three weeks after Naimoli announced he was stepping aside as managing general partner to assume a title of chairman and hand over day-to-day responsibilities for running the franchise to a chief operating officer.
Naimoli denied the move was the result of a dispute between him and other owners of the clubs who wanted to oust him.
At 12-31, the Devil Rays have the worst record in the major leagues. The team ranks 27th among 30 teams in home attendance (15,830 per game) and recently denied a published report that the rift among Naimoli and his partners might threaten the club’s ability to pay players and other employees.