PHILADELPHIA - Bo Porter was already a Houston resident. Now, after the Nationals’ season ends, he’ll skipper the city’s baseball team, as well.
Porter was announced this morning as the next manager of the Houston Astros, which will be the 40-year-old’s first big league managerial gig. After a college football career at Iowa, a stint in the major leagues as a player, two years of service as a minor league coach and manager and five years as a base coach or bench coach for three different big league clubs, his athletic career has taken yet another positive turn.
“It’s a good feeling. I’m excited,” Porter said, seated in the visiting dugout late this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “There’s only 30 of these jobs, and whenever you get an opportunity to be named a manager, it’s always exciting. But with the cherry on top, it’s in my hometown and I’m excited about it.”
As I mentioned earlier, the timing of Porter’s hire is a bit odd. Normally, teams wanting to interview Porter would wait until the Nationals were done with their postseason run, but Porter said the Astros wanted to act quickly and were worried about a possible long playoff push by the Nats disrupting their managerial search.
One might wonder how Porter’s new gig will impact his current gig, but he says he won’t start turning his attention towards the Astros until his duties with the Nationals are complete.
“This is the last time in which I will talk about this here topic,” Porter said. “My focus is on the Washington Nationals and thus our quest to win a World Series title. I don’t want this to be anything that distracts from what it is we’re doing here. We have a chance to really do something special. The guys in that clubhouse, they know I’m committed. Davey Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff, Mike Rizzo, the Lerner family, they know that I’m committed to what we have going on here, and after today, we’re not going to talk about it anymore.”
Porter clearly has enjoyed his experience with the Nationals, and thanked manager Davey Johnson for helping him to get to this point.
“Davey has been a huge mentor for me,” Porter said. “He and I, we bounce things off each other from lineup construction to in-game strategy. He’s been basically a godsend for me, and the amount of responsibility he places on me has helped me in my preparation for the job as the manager of the Houston Astros, and for that I thank him.”
As for his time in Washington D.C., Porter has nothing but fond things to say about his overall experience with the Nationals, as well.
“The relationships that I’ve developed here ... it’s something that probably won’t hit me until I get home this offseason, but I will miss them tremendously,” Porter said. “Right now, all I want for Christmas is one thing, is a World Series ring.”
Johnson admitted Porter leaving is a bit of a bittersweet thing for the Nationals; his hire is yet another indication that the Nationals have turned around their baseball program, but they will now have to replace a guy who has really endeared himself to those around him in the organization.
“I hate to lose him,” Johnson said. “He’s a big part of our success here and a really good baseball man. But it’s a great opportunity for him. It’s going to be a good challenge, and I think he’s the right man for the job. ... I think any time you get any job in the big leagues to manage, it’s a wonderful challenge. I really like his evaluation on talent, and he’s a people person. I think he’s a perfect fit.”
Johnson has bigger things on his mind right now than who will replace Porter at season’s end, but he did say that he prefers to have his new third base coach come from in-house. Ideally, that person would also be able to manage the baserunning and coordinate the outfielders, as Porter does.
“This is a fine organization, got a lot of quality coaches and we have a lot of people I think highly of in our system,” Johnson said. “So I don’t think that will be a problem.”