Yost meets with Astros on vacancy
HOUSTON -- Ned Yost says he knows how to turn around the Houston Astros.
The former Milwaukee Brewers manager met with the team on Thursday, the third candidate to interview to become Houston's skipper next season.
The Astros plan to interview a total of 10 candidates, including former manager Phil Garner. San Diego Padres hitting coach Randy Ready met with the team later Thursday.
Houston is looking for a successor to Cecil Cooper, who was fired on Sept. 21. Dave Clark, who was named interim manager when Cooper was relieved, and minor-league coordinator Al Pedrique interviewed on Wednesday.
A former catcher, Yost was the Atlanta Braves' bullpen coach under Bobby Cox from 1991-98 and the Braves' third-base coach from 1999-2002. He said he would apply lessons learned from Cox in fixing the Astros, who went 74-88 in 2009.
I think it's a couple of key spots and they can definitely be a contender again.” -- Ned Yost on the Astros
"The Atlanta Braves were in last place for years and years before I got there," Yost said. "Being a part of a staff that got 12 consecutive division championships, I saw how Bobby did it. I watched how to go about it."
Ready, 49, became the Padres' hitting coach in July when Jim Lefebvre was fired. He was managing the Padres' Triple-A affiliate in Portland.
Previously, Ready managed a team in the New York-Penn League and Single-A and Double-A teams in the Padres' organization. Ready acknowledged his lack of big-league experience, but tried to convince the Astros' brass that he was worth the gamble.
"Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre -- they had to get a start somewhere," Ready said. "Someone took a chance on them and look where they are today. I think my time is now."
Yost was fired by Milwaukee in September 2008, after the Brewers lost 11 of 14 games and a 5½ -game lead in the wild-card race.
He took over the Brewers in 2003, after Milwaukee won only 56 games the previous season. The Brewers finished with winning records in Yost's final two seasons -- and rallied to earn the wild card after he was relieved.
Yost compared the Astros to this year's Colorado Rockies, who started 18-28 this season, replaced manager Clint Hurdle with Jim Tracy and rallied to make the playoffs.
"A different voice can make a difference in their style of play," Yost said. "That's important."
Yost thinks the Astros are one good starting pitcher away from becoming a winner again. He said Houston's level of success next season depends heavily on the health of ace Roy Oswalt, who sat out the last three weeks of the season with a bulging disk in his back.
"I don't think nine holes they have to fill," Yost said. "I think it's a couple of key spots and they can definitely be a contender again."
Yost sat out the 2009 season and said he used the time off to evaluate how he could improve as a manager. He said no other teams have contacted him about their openings.
"There are a lot of areas where I think I can get better and be a little bit smarter in certain areas," he said. "It was beneficial to sit and to be able to take account of all those."
Yost said one of his first priorities with the Astros would be to instill a winning mindset around the clubhouse.
"It takes a mentality, it takes a focus," Yost said. "It takes an attitude that every day when you walk in that clubhouse, you're bringing your entire package, whatever it is, if you're a pitcher, an infielder, an outfielder. And you're going to give everything you have when you step on that field to win that baseball game."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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