HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday the team's search for a permanent manager remains in the early stages. Luhnow, team president George Postolos and owner Jim Crane have a long list of candidates, and the team is trying to gain as much information as possible before starting the interview process.
Tony DeFrancesco has been managing the team on an interim basis since Brad Mills was let go Aug. 18.
"We're continuing to assess our list of candidates," Luhnow said. "I mentioned before that it's a relatively long list, and what we're trying to do right now is do as much as we can prior to engaging in any conversations to trim that list down a little bit, and there are a lot of conversations going on between George and Jim and myself and us, reaching out to people in the industry we know and trust. That's the process we're going through right now."
The challenge for the team's brass is finding the type of candidate who most closely matches the team's organizational direction. Luhnow said the new manager would have to be an inspirational leader, a teacher and a strategist. And he obviously needs to be willing to be excited to work with young players.
"We need someone that's going to be good at teaching, someone good at inspiring and basically working with the front office and help us achieve our goal of becoming as competitive as possible," he said. "I don't see a lot of separation between the front office and the manager and the field staff. All those should work together seamlessly towards the same objective."
Luhnow said the team would like to interview potential candidates all within the same time frame, but he doesn't know how soon interviews will start.
Lowrie eyeing return in mid-September
HOUSTON -- Shortstop Jed Lowrie, out since July 15 with a nerve injury in his right knee, expects to be back in the Astros' lineup two or three weeks before the end of the season, assuming his rehabilitation continues to go well.
That would set his return to sometime in the middle of September.
"I'm encouraged with how everything is progressing," said Lowrie, who has been working out in Houston. "I'll just continue to take each step, jump through every hoop and make sure it's good to go and get back out there as soon as possible."
He said he is starting to feel more confident on the knee, which is still being supported by a brace.
"We're just going to continue to find new things to do and new ways to push it to make sure that that confidence continues to build without pushing it too fast where I could potentially hurt it again," Lowrie said. "It's kind of that balance."
Lowrie's injury happened during a collision at second base against the Giants on July 14.
Paredes to learn right field, then move to center
HOUSTON -- Jimmy Paredes was smiling ear to ear and joking around with teammates Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez in the clubhouse before Tuesday's game. Paredes certainly looked at home in his surroundings, and the Astros hope it carries over to his on-field performance.
A day after the Astros announced they were calling up the infielder-turned-outfielder, Paredes was in the lineup in right field against the Giants, batting second against Matt Cain. The Astros believe Paredes could eventually wind up in center, but for now he's going to learn right.
"We're hoping right now at one of the corner spots he should be OK," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "The transition from infield to outfield is not as easy as some people think. Routes and angles are all different for him. We feel eventually he'll transition into a top center fielder."
Paredes, acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade in 2010, has bounced around the infield during his time in Houston, before the club decided to move him to the outfield a month ago. He was playing second base, which is where All-Star Altuve is entrenched at the Major League level.
Since being moved to the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier this month, Paredes has played 19 games in center and two in left, but this will be his first exposure to right. DeFrancesco saw the uber-athletic Paredes get his feet wet in the outfield in Oklahoma City.
"There's going to be mistakes," he said. "Balls might fall in and you might say he took a bad drop step or a bad angle, but we're willing to take a chance with a young prospect like Jimmy," he said.
Paredes, who will play outfield in the Dominican this winter, was batting .318 with 13 home runs, 59 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 124 games for the RedHawks this year, ranking first in the Pacific Coast League in steals, second in hits (161) and total bases (242) and third in runs scored (92). Last year, he batted .286 (48-for-168) with eight doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 46 games for the Astros.
Club unlikely to make several callups Saturday
HOUSTON -- When rosters can expand to 40 players on Saturday, the Astros won't be calling up several Minor Leaguers right away.
Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said the team will likely add extra pitching, a position player or two and an extra catcher sometime soon. But DeFrancesco also wants to get players already with the team a real chance to learn at the Major League level.
"We're going to try to get a consistent lineup out there," DeFrancesco said. "We're going to try to give these guys some Major League at-bats."
The regular season for Triple-A Oklahoma City ends on Monday. The Astros will probably wait until then to make any moves, barring injury or a dire bullpen situation.
The RedHawks entered Tuesday 4 1/2 games out of first place in the Pacific Coast American Southern division. They have three more games against first-place Albuquerque this week, so qualifying for the postseason is still possible.
Houston probably wouldn't promote players from the RedHawks roster right away if the Triple-A affiliate extends its season beyond Monday.
"You never know in baseball," DeFrancesco said. "They could sweep them and have a chance down the road."
Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell, out of the lineup since Aug. 22 with a bruised right index finger, said that there was no structural damage in the finger. Doctors told him that the bruise compares to shin splints. Maxwell will try to start swinging a bat on Wednesday. He is available to pinch-run.
Reliever Francisco Cordero played catch on Tuesday and hopes to throw off a mound on Wednesday. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 2 with a sprained ligament in a toe on his right foot.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.