Mills excited about opportunity

BOSTON -- Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills said he's excited for the opportunity to interview for the Houston Astros' managerial opening, but doesn't yet know when that will be.

It was announced on Monday afternoon in a press conference with Boston general manager Theo Epstein and manger Terry Francona that both Mills and first base coach Tim Bogar were granted permission to interview with the Astros.

"There's a number of candidates and we're proud that those two will be amongst the group to be interviewed," Epstein said. "We wish them the best of luck. "

The other candidates include: interim manager Dave Clark, former Astros skipper Phil Garner, minor league coordinator Al Pedrique, who became third base coach when Clark was promoted, former Brewers manager Ned Yost, San Diego hitting coach Randy Ready, former Arizona manager Bob Melvin and former Washington manager Manny Acta.

The Astros have also been granted permission to interview Philadelphia bench coach Pete Mackanin when the Phillies complete postseason play.

Epstein also said that the Cleveland Indians had asked for permission to speak to pitching coach John Farrell, but that he said he would like to stay in Boston. Farrell would be allowed to interview if he wanted, Epstein said.

Bogar had left Fenway Park for the day, but Mills spoke to ESPNBoston.com and said he found out in Anaheim that the Astros had called for permission. Since the Red Sox were swept by the Angels on Sunday and their season is over, Mills was finally just starting to think about the possibility.

"I'm excited about it," he said. "I would love the opportunity [to manage]. At the same time I've got a good job and I want to do this job to the best of my ability. I'm not the manager, I'm the bench coach, so I want to be the best bench coach I can."

Mills, who was Francona's bench coach in Philadelphia from 1997-2000, knows Astros general manager Ed Wade from when they were both with the Phillies. Mills said he's already had a conversation with Wade, who was sensitive to the fact that Mills was still trying to do his job while Boston was in the playoffs. Mills told Epstein last week he didn't want to be a distraction or have the situation interfere with his job.

"I told Theo, 'Hey I'm doing my job here,'" Mills said. "And Theo said, 'I'm not asking you to shift into that mode. And I hadn't.

"Because of everything that happened [on Sunday], I hadn't spent much time thinking about it."

Mills has only interviewed once for a managerial job, with Seattle last year. The Mariners instead hired Don Wakamatsu. Mills, who managed in the minor leagues for 11 seasons for the Cubs, Rockies and Dodgers, said that interviewing with the Mariners last year will be beneficial.

"There's no doubt that I think any past experience, hopefully you're able to learn from and move on," Mills said. "I think as more of [the process] goes along, the more exciting that'll become."

Epstein confirmed both coaches are still under contract and will be back with the team if either one doesn't get the job. Mills said there's been nothing awkward between him and Bogar, who is 42 years old and in his first season as Boston's first base coach.

Bogar played parts of nine big league seasons with the Mets, Astros and Dodgers from 1993-2001, primarily as a shortstop. He first started his coaching career with Houston in 2004, when he managed one of its single-A teams. Overall, he managed minor league teams with both Houston and Cleveland from '04-07, and was named by Baseball America in 2006 as the "best manager prospect" to come out of the Double-A Eastern League.

"We're excited for each other," Mills said. "Besides, being on the same staff together and pulling in one direction -- I have a lot of respect for Tim and the job that he does and I want the best for him. We kind of chuckle and smile and help each other out the best we can because we think that much of each other."

Mills, 52, just completed his sixth season as Francona's bench coach. A 17th-round pick in 1979 by the Expos, Mills played from 1980-83 in Montreal, mostly at third base. In 2003 he spent one season as Frank Robinson's bench coach with the Expos before joining Francona -- his college roommate at Arizona -- in Boston.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report