Hinch confident in Cora's manager abilities

Hinch confident in Cora's manager abilities

HOUSTON -- Astros bench Alex Cora's name figures to come up in any of a number of managerial openings this offseason, and he's already been linked to the Phillies' job and the opening with the Mets that may happen in the coming days when Terry Collins' fate is determined.

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Cora, in his first year as the Astros' bench coach, has a diverse background that includes jobs as a baseball analyst on ESPN and being the general manager of a team in his hometown of Puerto Rico, as well as the Puerto Rican team that participated in the World Baseball Classic. That's on top of a 14-year Major League career with six teams.

"I'm happy for him that his name is being talked about," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's no surprise. It's very talented. He's interviewed for a few jobs before. He's equipped to handle this job whenever somebody sees him as a fit. His relatability skills to players, his baseball intellect, all impressive. His transition to coaching has gone well and I think his name will always be in the middle of the conversation until the right fit is found. But he will manage. Not a doubt in my mind."

Cora has previously interviewed for openings with the Rangers, Padres and D-backs. Adding a year of experience as the bench coach on a 100-win team -- a team that's deep into analytics -- only makes Cora more appealing.

Cora wasn't made available to be interviewed by reporters, but Hinch said he'd expect Cora to be able to interviewed for any managerial openings while continuing his duties with the Astros, who are preparing for a possible long run in the playoffs. Teams would have to ask the Astros for permission to interview Cora.

"I trust him to be prepared, trust him to be able to handle it," Hinch said. "He can compartmentalize very, very well. If anybody ever asks for permission, we'll have to handle it depending on what we're doing, where we're at, what his timeline is. Regardless of whether he would have conversations about potentially being the manager somewhere or not, when he shows up to the ballpark he's ready to go and prepared. I have the utmost trust he's going to have his attention here."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.