Astros have started interviewing manager candidates

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Astros owner Jim Crane took a break from answering Roger Clemens-related questions long enough to say that the team has narrowed down its list of managerial candidates and will interview 6-8 of them this week.

So far interim manager Tony DeFrancesco is the only known candidate, as both Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow declined to reveal any other names. DeFrancesco is 5-15 since taking over for Brad Mills, who was fired after going 171-274 (.384) in two-plus seasons on the job.

And what are they looking for in a manager? Previous experience managing in the majors is not a prerequisite and according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com “the Astros want a manager who’s capable of taking the analytical information from the front office and then utilizing it to make better decisions on the field, as well as one who’s adept at working with young players.”

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.