Astros excited about new skipper Mills
Players ready for manager's fresh outlook, attitude
HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Lance Berkman admitted Tuesday afternoon he didn't know very much about his new boss, but that was exactly what made the announcement that Brad Mills was the new Astros manager so exciting.
Houston tabbed the 52-year-old Mills to be its 18th manager, ending a more than month-long search for a full-time replacement for Cecil Cooper, who was dismissed Sept. 21 with 13 games remaining in the regular season. Mills is Berkman's sixth manager since breaking in with the Astros in 1999.
"Certainly I'd love to get together with him before we get started at some point to meet him and talk to him and see kind of what he's all about and that sort of thing," Berkman said. "It's weird because at least with the other managers we've had, going into the season we knew a little bit about him. He's kind of an unknown to me, but I'm looking forward to getting to know him. I've heard great things."
Mills, who beat out interim manager Dave Clark and former Astros manager Phil Garner for the position, comes highly recommended. He's managed for 11 years in the Minor Leagues, and spent the previous six years as the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox and won two World Series.
The Astros, of course, are still searching for their first World Series title and are banking on Mills being the man to get them there.
"I'm excited to look at the next chapter of the Astros and our season and hopefully we get moving in right direction," right fielder Hunter Pence said.
One person that does know Mills well is Astros hitting coach Sean Berry, who lives relatively close to Mills in central California.
"He's got everything you need to be a successful manager and bringing those intangibles and that experience from Boston, that should really help him," Berry said.
Astros pitcher Bud Norris played with Mills' son, Beau, in the Arizona Fall League and against him in college. Norris, who's one of the young players Mills will have to rely on in years to come, listened to the press conference to announce Mills' hiring and was thrilled with what heard.
"He had a good demeanor and good approach," Norris said. "It's good to hear him say the fact he appreciates the veteran guys and he's going to push them and it sounds great because I know he's going to push me, too, and I liked to be pushed. If we can fill in those last pieces in the lineup card, we should have a good outlook for next year."
Pence liked the fact Mills comes from a winning organization in Boston.
"We all have to get to know each other and really get on the same page and get started winning and get a winning attitude and mentality," Pence said. "It's the first time since I've been here a manager has come in from outside the organization, so I'm just looking forward to seeing what he's going on.
"[General manager] Ed Wade and [owner] Drayton [McLane] and all the Astros management believe in this guy. He must have something going on and he was with a winning ballclub in Boston. It's exciting to have a leader like that."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.