Al Pedrique, who managed the Diamondbacks the second half of this past season and was invited to return as thirdbase coach, was hired Wednesday by the Houston Astros as a special assistant to the general manager.
Pedrique’s duties will include evaluating the talent throughout the Houston organization, with an emphasis on the team’s programs in Latin America.
"Al is one of the finest baseball men I have ever been around," Astros GM Tim Purpura said in a statement. "He has a tremendous amount of integrity and is an excellent teacher and a tireless worker.
"It is very beneficial to have someone with Al’s background as a player, coach, and manager at both the major and minor league levels. He’ll certainly help us in our efforts domestically and he brings a great deal to the table in helping us improve our operations in Latin and South America."
NO CLAYTON YET
Agent Rick Licht denied a published report that said shortstop Royce Clayton "is expected to sign a two-year contract" with the D-Backs.
Clayton is one of Arizona’s top targets in free agency but would like to wait until after Dec. 7 to sign him to avoid having to give up the first pick in the second round of next year’s draft.
"We’ve had good initial contact from the Diamondbacks, and Royce is absolutely interested," Licht said, "but the conversation hasn’t progressed the last couple of days.
"The last couple of days we’ve had a little more substantive conversations with other organizations. Nothing is imminent."
Free-agent shortstops Cristian Guzman (Washington) and Omar Vizquel (San Francisco) have signed, and Boston, Minnesota, Anaheim and the Chicago White Sox may be looking for help at the position along with Arizona.
Arizona GM Joe Garagiola Jr. spoke Wednesday with the agents for ace Randy Johnson to update them on trade talks from last week’s general managers’ meetings.
"I just thought it was appropriate to kind of discuss with them what went on," Garagiola said.
St. Louis, Anaheim, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees are all believed to be interested in acquiring Johnson, who — as in July — seems to desire a deal to a contender.
But Arizona has yet to decide whether it will definitely trade him.