NEW YORK — While Sox manager Terry Francona is ecstatic at the news that Brad Mills was named the manager of the Houston Astros today, it is also clear that he will have a void to fill on the Red Sox staff.
Asked if he might turn to an internal candidate as his bench coach, Francona said, “I hope so. I really hope so. I think that’s something that’s important. I’ve been here long enough now that it’s something that definitely needs to be considered. That doesn’t mean that anybody’s a lock to get a job.”
DeMarlo Hale, who interviewed last year to be the manager of the Mariners, and Tim Bogar, who had a first-round interview for the Houston job, could be among those considered for the position.
Francona said that he had talked to general manager Theo Epstein earlier, and that they would take a step back before making a move. As Francona said, “Think we’ll let it slow down. I think we’re situated pretty well.”
He was more focused, at the moment, on the opportunity for his close friend. Mills and Francona have been together since they were road roommates in college, and Francona has made no secret of his desire to see Mills get a chance to run his own team.
“He’s wanted this,” Francona said. “I’m so proud, not just of him, but for him. He’s not going to shortchange anybody on effort. He embodies so much of what’s good in our game. I’m so happy for him. This meant a lot to him, as it should. I’m so thrilled for him. How much we’re going to miss him, sure, but it’s so far outweighed by happiness.”
Ed Wade called to tell Francona of his decision to hire Mills, but didn’t exactly come straight out with the news. Wade, who had fired Francona from his spot as the Phillies manager years ago, tried to get Francona to think that Mills hadn’t been chosen, before finally coming out with the truth.
“Attack is a good word,” Francona said, of how Mills will take on his new role. “He’s got a lot of skills that are going to help make him a successful manager. He understands communication. He respects the players. I think he’ll make the players be accountable, all the things we’ve talked about for six years in Boston. He’s a smart baseball person and he’s a very good person. That’s a pretty good combination.
“We’ve been friends for 30 years. You can’t replace that. He got his chance to do his own thing. We’re so happy for him, but replacing him won’t be easy, that’s a given.”