Bagwell to undergo shoulder surgery
Former Astros great looking to avoid replacing joint
HOUSTON -- It's been a long time since Astros icon Jeff Bagwell was able to swing a baseball bat with much authority, but with two young girls at home and a passion for golf, he knows there's a need to fix the ailing right shoulder that shortened his terrific career.
Bagwell, 41, will undergo major shoulder surgery Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., with hopes of living pain-free and avoiding a potential total shoulder replacement down the road. Bagwell was slowed by an arthritic right shoulder in the last few years of his career and was forced to retire in 2005 at age 37.
"They go into my shoulder and open it up -- it won't be arthroscopic," said Bagwell, who's been touring Texas as part of the Astros' Winter Caravan the past two weeks. "It's actual surgery. They'll take out all my bone spurs. There's one big one in there that we've known about for a while."
Bagwell underwent right shoulder surgery after the 2001 season to repair a partially torn labrum and had several loose bone fragments removed. He had arthroscopic capsular release surgery during the 2005 season and managed to return to the field that season, though he was limited to pinch-hitting duties during the regular season and was a designated hitter in the World Series.
His final game for the Astros was in the World Series against the Chicago White Sox. Bagwell came to Spring Training in 2006, but he didn't make it through camp and eventually retired without having played in a regular-season game that year. He served as a special assistant to the general manager the past three seasons.
Bagwell said Monday's surgery will be much more invasive than his previous procedures on the shoulder.
"They'll shave the ball of my arm down to a perfect circle, then drill a hole in the middle of it and stick a metal half ball on top of it and it should give me the perfect circle to where it's supposed to fit," he said.
Sounds painful, for sure, but Bagwell hopes it will be worth it in the long run.
"It's getting worse," he said. "I'm getting more bone spurs that are pressing against the rotator cuff. It's time for me to do something. If this doesn't work, then I'm going to have to get a total shoulder replacement. We'll see if this works."
Astros team medical director Dr. David Lintner underwent the same surgery two weeks ago and suggested it for Bagwell.
"Let him be the guinea pig first on this one," Bagwell said. "We both feel this is our best opportunity right now. Once you start sawing bones off, the bones get weak. With a total shoulder replacement, the socket, I'd have to have it replaced about every seven or eight years. And that's just too much."
Bagwell is up for Hall of Fame voting next year. The four-time All-Star ranks as the Astros' all-time leader in home runs (449) and RBIs (1,529) and ranks second behind Craig Biggio with 2,314 hits. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991, the NL Most Valuable Player in 1994 and earned three NL Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.