HOUSTON -- Considering the fact that he's one of the most experienced candidates the Astros will bring in for their first round of managerial interviews, former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost -- not surprisingly -- made it a point to stress that issue on Thursday afternoon when he addressed the media.

Yost was followed in the interview carousel by Randy Ready, who has extensive experience managing in the Minor Leagues but had never been on a Major League coaching staff prior to being named Padres' hitting coach at the end of July.

Yost and Ready have different backgrounds, but both are hoping to be the Astros' next manager.

"I don't think there's any substitute for experience," Yost said. "I think I learned a ton of great lessons being 12 years with Bobby Cox [in Atlanta], and I learned a ton of great lessons the last six years with the Milwaukee Brewers. I think that it only helps."

The two men became the third and fourth candidates to interview for the position, which became available when Cecil Cooper was dismissed on Sept. 21.

Interim manager Dave Clark and Al Pedrique, Minor League field coordinator, were the first to interview on Wednesday. Bob Melvin and Manny Acta will interview on Friday, Pete Mackanin and Phil Garner are scheduled for Saturday, and Brad Mills and Tim Bogar will close out the first round on Monday.

"I'm confident all the information was relayed in a professional matter," Ready said. "I look forward to working with [general manager] Ed [Wade] and his staff closely and being a part of the new direction this organization is going."

Yost, 54, and Ready, 49, interviewed for more than two hours with Wade; Tal Smith, president of baseball operations; assistant GMs Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck; and special assistant Enos Cabell.

"It's a process where I get to know them and they get to know me," Yost said. "I think it's important that they know what I think about their organization and my thoughts and philosophies on managing a baseball club. It was a lot of fun to be able to sit and talk about it."

Yost went 457-502 in six years as manager of the Brewers and was let go with about two weeks left in the 2008 season, before Milwaukee clinched the National League Wild Card spot on the final day of the season. Yost previously served in Atlanta as bullpen coach (1991 to 1998) and third-base coach (1999 to 2002).

Yost is very familiar with the Astros, having managed in the NL Central for nearly six years. He believes Houston is a couple of key moves away from contending for its first playoff berth since 2005.

"Right now you keep your fingers crossed and are hoping Roy Oswalt is going to recover [from a bulging disk in his back] and be the pitcher he's capable of being," Yost said. "That's a big part of it. I think they're one starter away from having a really good staff. Pitching and defense are the two things that are going to make a difference.

"I think they have young, talented defenders to go along with the outfield they have, which is an offensive outfield. But they're a tremendously capable offensive outfield, and I think they've got a well-rounded club. I don't think they have nine holes to fill. They have a couple of key holes, and they can be contenders again."

Ready managed in the Minors for 8 1/2 seasons before becoming the Padres' hitting coach on July 31. In 2002, he was named Manager of the Year of the New York-Penn League, and he has managed at Class A Fort Wayne, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland. He was with Portland before the Padres promoted him.

"Baseball has been training me and grooming me to become a big league manager," said Ready, who played 13 years in the Majors with four teams. "When I first got back in the game [after his playing days], I didn't anticipate being in the situation I am today. But my credibility around the industry has brought me to this point."

When asked about his lack of experience at the Major League level, Ready said such managers as Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Cox were given opportunities to manage when they were young and inexperienced.

"They had to get a start somewhere," Ready said. "I think that someone took a chance on them, and look where they are today. I think my time is now."