Tony DeFrancesco named Astros interim manager - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Tony DeFrancesco named Astros interim manager

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Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow named Tony DeFrancesco, the club's manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City, as the Astros' interim manager.

On Saturday the Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham.

"The general reason that the decision was made a little earlier than waiting until the end of the year, is we felt last year we got pressed in trying to improve the staff because everything was signed late November," said Jim Crane, Astros owner, in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.

Crane is referring to the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to his ownership group in November.

"This will really give us a lot of time to run a good process," Crane said. "We just didn't want to get pressed into a corner. We want to do a thorough and complete search, that's really the reason.

"Brad Mills has always been first class and has done a good job for us, just got to get the chemistry right."

Luhnow said no decisions have been made as far as how the club will proceed in finding its new manager.

"We feel like we have an opportunity now to begin a search for our permanent manager and permanent staff going forward," Luhnow said. "We are going to begin the work on that immediately and the goal is to find the best staff we can possibly assemble to take us to the next level."

DeFrancesco, was in his second year as the Redhawks manager, after previously managing the Sacramento River Cats for seven years.

The River Cats, the triple-A farm club of the Oakland Athletics, won three Pacific Coast Leagues titles on DeFrancesco's watch.

He was named the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year in 2003.

DeFrancesco was a minor league coach and manager in the Oakland system for 14 years.

He also coached third base for Oakland at the Major League level in 2008.

"I waited a long time to come to this level and to be on a Major League staff as the manager," DeFrancesco said.

"I know it's hard for the fans here to understand the process that we're going through, but today is the first day. I'm going tell the players it's a new beginning."

DeFrancesco hopes to have an immediate impact on the Astros.

"I want to be the guy that changes the environment around here," DeFrancesca said. "I grew up a winner. I had success in the minor leagues, and it's time for it to translate to the Major League level."

Also, the Astros named Ty Van Burkleo as the club's interim hitting coach.

Van Burkleo, who had been the Astros minor league hitting instructor since 2011, was the hitting coach for the Oakland A's in 2007 and 2008, and then was the bench coach for the Seattle Mariners in 2009 and 2010.

The Astros also named Dan Radison, the team's special assistant to the general manager, as the club's interim first-base coach.

Radison was the first-base coach of the Washington Nationals in 2010 and 2011, and has been a big-league coach for the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.

Luhnow said the wheels were put in motion to make these moves when team management decided a few days ago that Mills would not be the answer after this season.

"It was about a week ago that we made a decision that we weren't going to renew Brad for next year," Luhnow said. "Once that decision was made, in thinking through the logic, it made sense to make these changes sooner rather than later, not have a lame-duck administration really.

"To get some new blood in here, change the mix a little bit, find the chemistry. You can't point to any one thing and say that was the reason, that was what we were doing wrong. The mix just wasn't working, for whatever reason."

Astros catcher Chris Snyder believes the club will benefit from the changes.

"I think where this team is right now and the organization, I think that a change should be very well accepted," said Snyder.

Pitcher Bud Norris hopes the moves will bring some new energy to the team.

"I hope it does a lot," Norris said. "We're not going to know until it's over and done with.

"Personally I feel pretty good about it. I feel re-energized."



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