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Clark, Pedrique first Astros interviews

Clark, Pedrique first Astros interviews

HOUSTON -- The Astros commenced their interviews for a manager Wednesday at Minute Maid Park by sitting down with two men familiar to the organization -- interim manager Dave Clark and Minor League field coordinator Al Pedrique.

Clark interviewed with president of baseball operations Tal Smith, general manager Ed Wade and several other members of the baseball operations staff for more than two hours in the morning, and Pedrique interviewed in the afternoon.

The Astros are searching for a permanent replacement for Cecil Cooper, who was dismissed Sept. 21 after more than years on the job. Clark, who was in his first season as third-base coach, took over the managing duties for the final 13 games.

"It went well," Clark said of his interview. "You talk about a pressure cooker and being put on the hot seat. I think the big advantage I have there is I was in a room with people I know and am very familiar with, and I think it makes the process a whole lot easier."

Ned Yost and Randy Ready will interview Thursday, Bob Melvin and Manny Acta will interview Friday, Pete Mackanin and Phil Garner will interview Saturday, and Brad Mills and Tim Bogar will close out the first round of interviews Monday.

In addition to Smith and Wade, assistant general managers Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck and Enos Cabell, special assistant to the general manager, were part of the interview team.

"It went real well," Pedrique said. "I felt comfortable knowing Ed and knowing the staff. It was very interesting and I'm very pleased with the way the interview went, and now I have to wait and see what happens. I know they're going to interview more people in the next couple of days or so and the process will be there. They're going to call me back if I move to the next round."

Clark, 47, has spent five years in the Houston organization, including four as a manager in the Minor Leagues. He has a career 432-405 record as manager in the Minors, but also had previous experience on a Major League staff as the Pirates' hitting coach.

"I know this organization," Clark said. "I know the players that are here and players that are up and coming, and I think that helps."

Cooper was dismissed, in part, because of a lack of communication with the players. Several players, including Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, told MLB.com at the end of the regular season they would like to see Clark get the nod.

"I think that's one of my stronger points is communication," Clark said. "I always felt I was a pretty good communicator and that is definitely something I will stress and will come from me and the coaching staff. That's what these players want, that's what they need. They need to know what's expected of them."

Even if Clark doesn't get the job, he has the option to return to the Astros next year on the Major League coaching staff in some capacity.

"That means a lot," Clark said. "It means these guys think highly of me. I know that I've been in the trenches with these guys and with this organization and have tried to make these guys better. Some of the guys I've managed before are here and some are still coming. It's rewarding to know they feel that way about me."

Pedrique, 49, is in his fifth season with the Astros and first as Minor League field coordinator. He previously served as interim manger for the D-backs for the second half of the 2004 season after opening the year as third-base coach.

"I will bring a lot of energy, passion for the game and hard work," Pedrique said. "I'm very positive and I'm a firm believer in communication. That's part of my philosophy, communicating with the players and the staff. The players need to understand we all need to be on the same page to make it work."

Pedrique said many of the interview questions focused on his philosophy of handling young players, the superstar players, how he would run Spring Training and how he prepares on a daily basis during the season. As far as handling marquee players, he dealt with Randy Johnson, Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez in Arizona.

"The one thing I understood back then is you have to treat those guys with respect, you have to be honest and be up front and that's one thing I'm going to bring to the table with the Astros," he said. "The key players need to understand they're part of the team. Everything will revolve around them, but I expected them to be on the same page."

When asked what he would bring to the Astros, Clark didn't hesitate.

"It's going to be a fun atmosphere, it's going to be a winning atmosphere," he said. "We're in the transition of getting this team back to prominence, and as someone who's been in the organization and knows the philosophy of the organization, I think I'm the right man for the job."

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

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