WASHINGTON -- The runner-up to new Houston general manager Ed Wade arrived for work in the nation's capital, knowing how close he came to shedding the "assistant" from his title. Ruben Amaro Jr. figures he'll get his opportunity eventually. "I'm very happy for him," Amaro said. "He's a close friend of mine, and they made a great choice. They would have made a great choice either way. I congratulated him. I told him we'll get ready to make a deal or two together. He said, 'If you're willing to overpay, we'll talk.'
"I still feel confident that I'll have an opportunity to get to the next level. With each opportunity and each experience, I get to learn a little more about the process and certainly learn a little bit more about myself and other organizations." Amaro's fourth interview for a GM job -- after Los Angeles (before Paul DePodesta), Baltimore (Jim Duquette) and Philadelphia (Pat Gillick) -- pitted him against 10 other candidates. He was believed to be a leading candidate with Wade, who convinced him to retire as a player after the 1998 season and become the Phillies' assistant GM. "Certainly, I'd love to have had the opportunity to take that job," Amaro said. "It's a goal of mine to be a GM and run the baseball operations of an organization, but I'm pleased for Ed. I think the Astros made a great choice." Amaro may still get a chance at a GM job, possibly as the successor to Dave Littlefield in Pittsburgh, where he's worked closely with new team president Frank Coonelly. If not Pittsburgh, 70-year-old GM Pat Gillick has a contract that ends after the 2008 season, and Amaro has been taking on more responsibilities. Someday. "I don't think it's any secret that this is a place I love to be," Amaro said. "Certainly [team president] Dave Montgomery and the people in the front office have been loyal to me. It's still my goal to run the baseball operations at a Major League club, but it would have been tough to leave here. Unfortunately, I didn't get to make that decision, but it would have been a tough one." The Wade touch: In his eight years as Phillies GM from 1998-2005, Wade oversaw an organizational rebuilding that produced many of the players from the current nucleus: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Brett Myers and Cole Hamels, though he was always quick to pass on credit to the scouting department, headed by assistant GM Mike Arbuckle and director of scouting Marti Wolever. Wade's final season as GM came in 2005, when the Phillies missed making the playoffs by one game, in manager Charlie Manuel's first season at the helm. "He's had his fingerprints on a lot of the players who are here now," Amaro said. "I don't think people should lose sight of that. We didn't get to the playoffs, and that was ultimately the goal, but the things Ed did in this organization were obviously very positive. A lot of people on this field come from the Ed Wade era." Quotable: "I definitely thank Ed Wade for hiring me and giving me a chance to manage again. He showed a lot of trust in me. I got to know his personality that was hidden in public, and I think he's a different kind of person than people realize. I think he's very loyal. He was loyal to the Phillies." --Manuel, on Wade, who hired Manuel first as a special advisor to the GM in 2003, then as manager to replace Larry Bowa after the 2004 season Philling In: Shane Victorino started in right field for the first time since Sept. 10. Coming up: Adam Eaton has remained in the rotation despite his struggles in the final game of the Mets series, because J.D. Durbin has been worse. Eaton (9-9, 6.36 ERA) will get the call Friday at 7:05 ET against Shawn Hill (4-4, 3.01) of the Nationals.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.