Notes: New GM could be hired soon

Notes: GM could be hired soon

HOUSTON -- The Astros could have a new general manager in place in less than one week.

Club owner Drayton McLane said on Sunday prior to the Astros' series finale with the Pirates that the Astros could introduce a new GM "by next weekend or somewhere around there."

A panel consisting of McLane, interim GM Tal Smith and consultant Bob McLaren have interviewed 11 candidates. McLane will be out of town on business Monday and Tuesday, but he'll be back by game time Tuesday night, at which time the group will likely narrow the field and begin a second round of interviews.

"We're going to do some more interviewing and hopefully we'll have something productive done by the end of the week," McLane said. "But that's not a deadline. We're going to wait until we find the right person. We're going to re-interview several candidates."

The Astros have interviewed four former GMs -- Bob Watson, Ed Wade, Jim Beattie and Dan Evans -- as well as seven who are currently serving in an assistant capacity: Ruben Amaro Jr. (Phillies), Logan White (Dodgers), Dave Gottfried and Ricky Bennett (Astros), Steve Lubratich (Indians), John Mozeliak (Cardinals) and Muzzy Jackson (Royals).

McLane said he has no issue with making an announcement while the team is out of town. The Astros are scheduled to fly out Wednesday night to begin a week-long trek through St. Louis (Sept. 20-23) and Cincinnati (Sept. 25-27).

"No problem," McLane said. "Or, it could be when we get back [to Houston]."

Everett progressing: Adam Everett was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and hopes to return to the field in about a week.

"Obviously, this is what I've been shooting for ever since I got hurt," he said.

Everett hasn't played since mid-June, when he broke his leg during a collision in shallow left field with Carlos Lee. Since then, the shortstop has worked tirelessly to regain the physical strength he's lost from such a long layoff.

Cooper has hopes that Everett will play a few innings toward the end of the next road trip, when the team is in Cincinnati. Cooper also envisions inserting the shortstop into a game or two when the team returns for the last weekend of the season.

The mental aspect of this recovery is a very real factor, and Everett knows he needs to get on the field before the end of the season. He realizes he may feel tentative at first, coming off the longest injury-related layoff of his career.

"That's why I want to get out there and that's why they want to run me out there, so I can get over everything, know that I'm healthy going into the offseason and not have to worry about anything when I go to Spring Training," he said.

Cooper expressed a similar sentiment.

"He needs to know he's physically OK in the winter time," he said. "We know what the abilities are. You just want him to be mentally in good shape. You don't want [him] to go into Spring Training thinking, 'Where am I? Is this going to be a lingering thing in the next year?'"

Rotation shuffle: Roy Oswalt will take a temporary leave of absence from the team this week in anticipation of the birth of his second child.

Oswalt and his wife, Nicole, plan to induce labor on Tuesday. Oswalt will likely fly home to Weir, Miss., on Monday, and barring any unforeseen complications, Nicole will likely leave the hospital on Thursday. Oswalt will fly to St. Louis on Friday, and is tentatively slated to start Saturday against the Cardinals.

Oswalt was supposed to pitch Wednesday, but Juan Gutierrez will start in his place.

"[Oswalt] wouldn't be in any shape to pitch Wednesday," Cooper said. "We'll bump him, and hopefully by the weekend in St. Louis he'll be ready. Hopefully Saturday."

Don't do that: Cooper was not amused by Wandy Rodriguez's body language during his start on Saturday against the Bucs, and he plans to talk to the left-hander about showing up umpires -- a big no-no in Coop's book.

Rodriguez was displeased with a few of the calls made by home-plate umpire Gary Darling, and, from Cooper's vantage point from the dugout, didn't do a very good job of masking it.

"That's not the way you do that," Cooper said. "I'm not too tickled about it and we're going to talk about it."

My way or the highway: Among the myriad of topics covered during a team meeting Saturday was the issue of playing time. A lot of position players who were used to seeing their name in the lineup for much of the season can expect the complete opposite the final two weeks.

Cooper said he will consult with Craig Biggio on his playing time because "I think we owe him that," but added, "we're going to pull anyone else, no questions asked. That's just how it is.

"There's a lot of guys in this room that have been getting playing time that are no longer getting it," Cooper recalled telling the group on Saturday. "Playing time is going to be seriously cut. There will be some casualties."

Because Cooper is curious about Chris Burke and Cody Ransom, they will get the majority of the playing time at shortstop and second base in somewhat of a mix-and-match method. That means Eric Bruntlett and Mark Loretta are the odd men out.

"We have to see those two guys [playing Sunday]," Cooper said of Burke and Ransom. "Loretta might move around a little bit."

Loretta started at first base on Sunday in place of Lance Berkman, who was given the day off to rest.

Coming up: The Astros will continue their extended homestand on Monday with the first of three games with the contending Milwaukee Brewers. Matt Albers (4-8, 5.79 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, who will face Brewers righty Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 3.99 ERA).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.