KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Houston Astros bench coach Tony Pena was hired Wednesday as the manager of the Kansas City Royals.
Pena was among a handful of finalists to permanently replace the fired Tony Muser. He was chosen over candidates including Bucky Dent, manager of the Royals' Triple-A Omaha team; John Mizerock, who took over the Royals as interim manager; and ESPN analyst and former major league manager Buck Showalter.
Pena, 44, said becoming a major-league manager was the culmination of a dream he had when he started as a player.
``Thank you for this chance,'' he said. ``I won't let you down.''
Pena became Houston's bench coach this season after spending the last three years as manager of the club's top affiliate, Triple-A New Orleans.
Astros owner Drayton McLane, a close friend of Royals owner David Glass, had promoted Pena as managerial material. With 18 years as a major league catcher, Pena brings plenty of experience working with pitchers.
``His experience on the field, his success on the field, his success as a manager ... is a very key component to coming to this decision,'' Royals general manager Allard Baird said.
Pena was picked despite player support for Mizerock, who had a 5-8 record as interim manager.
Royals slugger Mike Sweeney said the players' views had been communicated to Baird.
``Whatever decision Allard makes, we're going to honor it and respect it,'' Sweeney said.