The search for the next manager of the Houston Astros appears to be nearing an end. Owner Jim Crane has said that the team hopes to have wrapped up a search by the end of next week, but Jeff Luhnow added Friday that they are closing in.
"We will see (Monday) if we're ready to make a decision or if there are any next steps," he said, leaving open the chance for a second round of interviews. "I feel good about the due diligence we've done on our side. We are really digging into various options and, more importantly, we're very excited about the different possibilities."
Among the possibilities are interim manager Tony DeFrancesco, Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Nationals third base coach Bo Porter. The Astros also interviewed Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus and former Phillies manager Larry Bowa, but both took their names out of the running. Ausmus was the latest to do so, quashing speculation Friday.
"Enjoyed discussing the Astros and the possibility of rejoining the organization," Ausmus told the Houston Chronicle in a text message. "But after careful consideration, (I) decided for personal reasons to remove my name from consideration. I certainly wish them the best of luck."
Even if a manager is chosen early next week, DeFrancesco, who improved to 10-20 as interim manager with a 7-1 win over the Pirates Friday, will finish the season. Beyond that, the timing could get complicated for the hire.
"Some are working. Some aren't working," he said. "Some are on playoff teams. Some are not. Some are in our organization. Some are not.
"There are still a lot of variables. We're going to be respectful of our own team and respectful of other teams and what they are going through now. The No. 1 priority is getting the right guy. We're very close."