Tony DeFrancesco completed the journey from playing high school baseball on the fields in Rockland County to managing a Major League Baseball team when the Houston Astros named him as the replacement when Brad Mills was fired Saturday.
DeFrancesco, 49, spent 17 years as a coach and manager in minor league baseball before managing his first game in the majors Sunday gainst the Arizona Diamondbacks at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
"I'm really excited to be here," DeFrancesco told MLB.com. "I've waited a long time to come to this level and be on a major league team as a manager."
DeFrancesco had been managing the Astros Class AAA team in Oklahoma City, where he worked with many of the Astros' current players. Before that, he led the Oakland Athletics' AAA team in Sacramento, the River Cats, to six Pacific Coast League Southern Division championships in seven seasons. He also gained major league coaching experience as the Athletics' third base coach in 2008.
DeFrancesco is currently the interim manager, but the Astros have not ruled him out as a candidate for the permanent job.
The Astros currently own the worst record in Major League Baseball at 39-83. DeFrancesco will be looking for his first victory as a major league manager when the Astros play the Cardinals in St. Louis 8 p.m. tonight.
"For me, defense and pitching is going to win a lot of games, and we have a yhoung pitching staff, and our defense has been inconsistent, but we're going to work on that every day," DeFrancesco told MLB.com. "We're going to put the best nine guys on the field and compete our butts off day in and day out for the next 41 games."
DeFrancesco return to the area Friday as the Astros play a weekend series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
DeFrancesco played catcher at Suffern High School and Seton Hall University before spending nine seasons in the minor league systems of the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds.