The Houston Astros were prepared for the wave of phone calls that they expect to come in from candidates, friends of candidates and so on as they prepare to hire a manager for next year. But for now, the team is in the hands of Tony DeFrancesco, a 17-year veteran minor league manager who will lead the team as long as he's asked.
DeFrancesco got the call from the Astros after Brad Mills was fired and will begin his first full series at the helm Tuesday in St. Louis. While he has the job only on an interim basis, it's the culmination of a path that almost ended when the Athletics wanted to make him a roving instructor rather than his familiar managerial role.
"I talked with my family, and I said that I have a passion for managing," DeFrancesco said. "Even as a major league coach, it wasn't the same as when you're in charge. You don't feel that adrenaline rush during the game."
So he left the A's organization, where he enjoyed so much success as a Triple-A manager. In 2011, he joined the Astros to manage Triple-A Oklahoma City, and this year after leading the club to contention, he moved up to manage a major league club far from it.
"My first major league manager's game unfortunately didn't work out the way I wanted," he said after the Astros lost 8-1 in his debut Sunday to fall to 39-83. "But it was an honor. It was an honor to put on the Astros uniform, to be part of the organization. I'm excited to get it going."
Owner Jim Crane said that while DeFrancesco will be a candidate for the job, the organization is making no secret about the fact that it is going out to look for the best available possibilities. But even if it's only for 41 games, DeFrancesco is enjoying the ride.