Back again so soon? Cubs bring in Astros bench coach Joe Espada for second interview

Does this make Espada, who first interviewed last Monday, at least a co-favorite, along with David Ross, for the job?

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League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game One

Joe Espada: more than just a hitter of pregame grounders.

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Those waiting for the Cubs to announce the hiring of David Ross as manager might have to wait a little longer.

If not forever.

Astros bench coach Joe Espada headed to Chicago on Sunday for a second interview with the Cubs. Presumably, Espada flew into town — though it’s possible he simply floated here after celebrating Jose Altuve’s American League Championship Series-winning walk-off homer Saturday night in Houston.

The return visit was first reported by MLB.com.

Does this make Espada, who also interviewed last Monday, at least a co-favorite, along with Ross, for the job?

It’s a reasonable leap knowing that first interview — which went very well, sources told the Sun-Times — left the Cubs’ front office wanting more time with him.

It’s unlikely the Cubs would announce a managerial hire on the day of a World Series game.

Game 1 is Tuesday in Houston, leading to speculation that Ross could be introduced as manager Monday.

With Espada’s candidacy possibly gaining strength, the Cubs might wait until a World Series off day — the next scheduled one is Thursday — or until the season has ended.

If Espada, 44, is the guy, after the World Series seems like the best bet.

It would be an upset in the eyes of many if it doesn’t end up being Ross, a special assistant to the front office who was a catcher and team leader on the 2016 World Series-winning team.

The Cubs also have interviewed two other internal candidates, bench coach Mark Loretta and first-base coach Will Venable, as well as former Yankees manager Joe Girardi and recently fired Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. Girardi reportedly will have a second interview with the Mets.

Before joining the Astros, Espada coached with the Yankees. He also has front-office experience, having served as a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Like Ross, Espada — whose name has been linked to the Giants’ and Pirates’ managerial openings — is considered a strong communicator with natural leadership qualities.

“He’s a really good baseball man,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said during the ALCS. “He’s smart. He’s got leadership qualities. Any team that wants to consider him is heading down the right path. He’s incredible for us. If we lose him, it’s because it’s another leadership opportunity. If not, then he’ll be right by my side.”

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