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10/05/09 7:28 PM EST

Astros line up managerial candidates

Front office not looking to rush selection process

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said Monday he hopes to begin the process of making contact with potential managerial candidates by the end of this week.

Wade, Astros owner Drayton McLane and president of baseball operations Tal Smith may meet on Thursday to put a plan in place and discuss the club's preliminary list of potential candidates. McLane and Wade said it will likely be several weeks before a manager is in place.

"We're going to meet internally late in the week, probably Thursday and Friday, and review the list of candidates and begin the process of making contact," Wade said. "At this point in time, we've barely scratched the surface. Everybody needs to be in the same room at the same time to talk about who will be involved in the actual interview process from our end."

McLane, who is on business in Washington, D.C., and expected back in Houston on Thursday, said the Astros plan to be thorough.

"Instead of picking a manager out of the air, we're going to see what the Houston Astros need," McLane said.

The Astros will probably have to ask permission to interview candidates from other teams, especially teams that are in the playoffs. The timetable of those interviews could make the process last until after the World Series.

"It could be probably six weeks or more," McLane said. "You've got a lot of people tied up in the postseason. If one of the candidates involved is with the team in the postseason, you really can't approach them at this time. So you have to be careful with the process. There's no rush. We want to find the best possible manger."

Cecil Cooper was let go as manager on Sept. 21 and replaced on an interim basis by third-base coach Dave Clark, who guided the team to a 4-9 finish. Most of the Astros players would like to see Clark return, and he will get an interview for the job.

McLane said he expects there to be plenty of interest in the job despite the Astros having gone through five managers since 2001.

"I think there will be a lot of good candidates," he said. "Houston is one of the best five or six teams in baseball, the fourth-biggest city in baseball and has some of the best attendance in baseball. I feel there will be strong candidates because we're a major city and have one of the best baseball fields. Our organization, in the 17 years I've owned the team, has the fifth-best record in all of baseball."

The Astros' coaching staff was informed two weeks ago that they were free to look for other jobs, based on the uncertainty and there being nothing guaranteed under a new manager. Wade said he's talked to all the coaches individually in New York over the weekend to let them know where they stand.

"I hope to bring some clarity to that picture sooner rather than later, this week or next week," Wade said. "In some cases, we're going to have to wait to fill some spots until after the manager is in place. In fairness to the guys that have been here, we felt it appropriate to have some type of conversation with them."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.