Biggio to teach prospects fundamentals
Former All-Star signs personal service contract with the club
HOUSTON -- After spending the last several months coaching football and baseball at St. Thomas High School, Craig Biggio realized he enjoys the teaching side of the game a lot more than he originally thought he would.
Biggio's recent experiences working with young people, including his son, Conor, a freshman on the St. Thomas baseball team that his dad helps coach on a part-time basis, gave him a new perspective in these very early stages of his post-playing career. That is a big reason why Biggio is so optimistic about the three-year personal services contract that he signed with the Astros on Monday.
Biggio will be a special assistant to general manager Ed Wade and will assist in a variety of areas, including baseball operations on the Major and Minor League sides. He'll place special emphasis on instruction, the amateur draft and scouting, he'll serve on a part-time basis as an instructor at Spring Training and he will attend next year's Elite Camp, designed as a Spring Training warmup for the organization's top prospects.
The contract is similar to the deal Jeff Bagwell agreed to upon his retirement in December of 2006. Roger Clemens also has a personal services contract in place that will kick in when the pitcher officially retires.
"This is obviously a natural fit for both Craig Biggio and the Houston Astros," McLane said. "He is one of true legends of our franchise, and even though he is not on the playing field anymore, his influence and leadership in the development of our young talent at all levels of the organization will continue to be of great benefit."
From his office in Florida, Wade expressed an enthusiasm to bring Biggio into the front office fold.
"I think he'll be great in that environment and I'd like to try to expose him to as many things as possible on our end and have everybody involved and get the most out of the relationship," Wade said.
Biggio will also gain exposure to the marketing side, working with president of business operations Pam Gardner.
The job description is still evolving, but Biggio is focused on working with the "kids" -- the prospects who comprise the very intricate web that forms a franchise's player development system.
"The future is about the next generation," Biggio said. "It's not about me anymore and it's not about [Bagwell] anymore. It's about these next kids and what we can do and how we can make them better -- better players and better people."
Biggio's commitments to his son's team, as well as his desire to be home more than he's away, will prevent him from spending weeks at a time in Kissimmee this year. He'll be there, sporadically. As time goes on, however, Biggio intends to be around the Minor Leagues as much as he can. He doesn't want to be one of those superstars from yesteryear who drops in every once in a while, offers brief words of wisdom and vanishes the next day.
Having worked with young people, Biggio knows that's not going to make enough of an impact.
"I understand from being around high school kids, you have to spend some time with them," he said. "You have to get to know them a little bit. We're going to work our way into this thing slowly but I'm excited about it.
Biggio, 42, retired in 2007, capping a 20-year career that placed him in the top 20 all-time with 3,060 hits and fifth all-time with 668 doubles.
While Major Leaguers all over the country will be heading to Florida and Arizona this week, Biggio said he has no regrets that he will not be among those traveling to Spring Training.
"I feel bad for them," he said with a laugh. "There's no 'easy' around Spring Training. That's the hardest part. I've had a lot of players call me -- 'Hey, how are you doing? Are you OK? I know you're retired, you have any mixed emotions?' I don't."
Leaving the game on his terms has helped Biggio put his playing career in the rearview mirror, and it's helping him make a smooth transition to the next stage of his life.
"After last year, it couldn't get any better than it was, other than us winning," he said. "For me, I look at the field and I look at it as, 'I guess that's what I did.' I don't look at that chapter of my life anymore. I've already moved on to the next one."
The next chapter includes spending time with his wife, Patty, and his three children -- sons Conor, 15, and Cavan, 13, and daughter Quinn, eight.
Someday, Biggio will consider coaching on a full-time basis. For now, he's satisfied with his current deal, which will keep him with the club through the 2010 season.
"It's going to work out well for my family," he said. "Later on when [Quinn] gets a little older and a little more security in her life, I'd love to get back on the field again, whatever it is. We'll cross that bridge when we have to."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.