PHILADELPHIA -- The Astros on Thursday named Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter to be their new manager.
Porter will continue to be Washington's third-base coach until the postseason comes to an end. The Astros had been looking for a permanent manager since they dismissed Brad Mills last month. Tony DeFrancesco has served as the interim manager.
"Whenever you get an opportunity to be named the manager, it's always exciting. With the cherry on top, it's in my hometown, and I'm excited," Porter said.
Porter said he will not talk about being manager of the Astros after Thursday because he is focused on helping the Nationals win a World Series title this fall.
"This is the last time in which I will talk about this topic. My focus is on the Washington Nationals and our quest to win the World Series title," Porter said. "I didn't want to do anything that distracts from what we are doing here. We have a chance to do something special. The guys in the clubhouse know I'm committed."
Since his first interview with his new club on Sept. 13, Porter has been in constant communication with the Astros. For example, Houston scouting director Mike Elias was recently in D.C. and had dinner with Porter. The two talked extensively about the scouting department and all the changes that had taken place in the organization. Then, on Wednesday, Porter learned that he had the job. The Astros didn't want to wait until after the season, because they didn't want to take the chance of other teams trying to acquire Porter's services.
"The Astros were able to answer all my questions. I answered a lot of their questions. Things got more intensified," Porter said.
The Astros have the worst record in baseball and Porter sounded like a man who plans to turn things around.
"People look at losses as losses in the loss column," Porter said. "A lot of times, they are learning how to win. ... They turned the roster over, they traded a lot of proven Major League players and brought in a lot of talent. When you start talking about wins and losses, the number of wins and losses, more important for me is everybody wants to win. That's the desire. ... At the end of the day, you have to take care of the process and all of the other business in between. That is going to be our focus from Day 1 -- taking care of the process."
Porter is highly respected in the Nationals organization. In fact, some with the club believed he would be Davey Johnson's successor once Johnson retired. But Porter said the Astros were aggressive when it came to acquiring his services.
"Bo Porter joined our staff in 2011 to instruct and coach our young players in how to play the game right, and in how to win," general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. "He has been invaluable to us and our drive toward our first postseason. Despite his obvious value, we allowed and encouraged Bo to meet with his hometown Houston Astros to pursue his dream to manage in the Major Leagues."
Besides being the third-base coach, Porter has also coached the outfielders and helped Johnson run the offense. It was Porter who taught first baseman Tyler Moore how to play the outfield this past offseason. Moore hasn't made an error while playing the corner outfield spots this season.
"He has helped me in the outfield a lot. He means a lot to this team," Moore said. "He made a foundation for me. He has been helpful ever since I've met him. I'm glad I haven't screwed up too much. He taught me how to be under control out there."
Ian Desmond called Porter a leader and said he will help improve the Astros.
"He definitely deserves to be a Major League manager. I think he is the man for the job," Desmond said. "I think he will do great. ... I know they have some good ballplayers over there. They had some injuries early on, distractions here and there, but I think they are going to be good. Moving to the American League will be good for them. They have an extra bat in the lineup [because of the designated hitter]. They have some quality pitching. They just have to settle in. I think Bo is going to have a good career over there."
Porter does not have any prior managerial experience. However, he has also served as a third-base and bench coach for the D-backs and a third-base coach and baserunning coach for the Marlins.
Porter played three big league seasons with the Cubs, A's and Rangers from 1999-2001. Johnson said he would he would like to go in-house to get a new third-base coach once the season is over.