HOUSTON -- Tom Lawless, interim manager of the Astros, and Adam Everett, interim bench coach, spoke enthusiastically on Tuesday afternoon about their new opportunities, joking about beating each other on the golf course while expressing an appreciation for the game of baseball.
They stopped short of completing each other's sentences, but the chemistry was clear. It's that kind of synergy the Astros hope can spread throughout the clubhouse and dugout for the final month of the season.
One day after dismissing manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley, the Astros introduced their replacements: Lawless, a baseball lifer who grew up under the tutelage of Whitey Herzog, and Everett, the team's former defensive whiz at shortstop, who has a passion for both teaching and for the Astros.
"It's literally like getting called up for the first time," Everett said. "You're wide-eyed and look around and go 'Wow.' The stadiums are bigger, the lights are brighter. It's pretty awesome, to be honest with you. It's a great experience. I was here ... when we were really good, and that's where we want to get back to. To kind of be on the other side now and get back to the process, I'm excited."
Lawless, 57, has waited for the opportunity to manage at the Major League level for quite some time, and whether he'll remain in the position full-time could be determined by how well the Astros play over the final 24 games.
Lawless has spent six years in the Astros' system, including this year as the infield coach at Double-A Corpus Christi. He spent the first few weeks of the season as the interim manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City when Tony DeFrancesco was on medical leave.
"It's very exciting," Lawless said. "You're in this game forever, and I've been doing this a long time. The nice thing about it is, I know a lot of the young kids that are up here, because I've worked with them the last three or four years.
"The organization is going in the right direction, and I'm happy to be a big part of it."
Best known for his three-run homer off Frank Viola in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series as a member of the Cardinals in St. Louis' 7-2 win, Lawless has done it all in the Minor Leagues. He's served as manager, coach and instructor in the Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Padres and Orioles systems. He also managed team China during the 2008 Olympics.
Now he's tasked with trying to make sure the Astros finish the season strong while balancing a young roster that's going to be thrown into the fire in a grueling September schedule.
"I'm sure [Adam and I are] going to do the best job we can and [the way] we know how to do it," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time. Adam's only been on this side of it for a couple of years, and he's learning, and we welcome the opportunity to go out there and do our thing. We have to remember, it's really not about us. It's about the 25 guys going out there day in and day out. Our job is to prepare, get them ready so they can go out there to compete."
When asked about his managerial style, Lawless said he's a believer in "Whiteyball" -- going from first to third on the bases, bunting to move runners and not waiting for the home run, which is a huge part of the Astros' offense.
"If those situations occur and we have the chance to do it, I think we're going to try to do it," he said. "We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I'm not big on waiting around for the three-run homer. It puts more pressure on the other team to make plays."
Without going into specifics, general manager Jeff Luhnow said that a managerial change was needed in order to improve the chemistry in the clubhouse. Porter's motivational signs, which had adorned the walls of the clubhouse, were removed by the time the media arrived prior to Tuesday's game.
Lawless and Luhnow addressed the team in the clubhouse on Tuesday and expressed togetherness.
"We're focused on playing baseball, and when we get here, it's business as usual," veteran catcher Jason Castro said. "Obviously, there's a new staff and things change, but from a players' standpoint, we're here doing the business we've been doing all year long."
Lawless is familiar with many of the younger players on the roster, which was expanded with a round of callups Tuesday, from his various roles in the organization.
"I've known Lawless for about four years now," pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "He was my first manager in high A and Double-A as well. I know both of them well, and I think they're going to bring a lot of good assets to the Houston Astros.
Everett, 37, is only three years removed from the end of an 11-year playing career, during which he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He started for the Astros in 2005, when they went to the World Series, and remains loyal to the organization that gave him his first chance in the big leagues as a player and, now, as a coach.
"I think if you're passionate about something, that's contagious," he said. "If you're passionate about the game, it's going to rub off on other guys. And if it doesn't, then maybe that's not the type of guy we need here. I learned from the [Craig] Biggios and [Jeff] Bagwells, and those are two pretty good guys to learn from. That's the type of baseball we want to get back to, and it's coming. This team has improved dramatically, and it's time to keep taking those steps."