Berry surprised by dismissal from Astros
Former hitting coach could remain in Houston's organization
HOUSTON -- Sean Berry admitted he was caught by surprise when the Astros informed him Sunday morning he was being relieved of his duties as the club's hitting coach.
"It was a shocker," said Berry, who handled the news with professionalism and class.
The Astros announced prior to Sunday's game that franchise icon Jeff Bagwell was taking over as hitting coach for the rest of the season. Berry left the ballpark before the club played the Cardinals and was planning to fly home to California with his daughter.
"I worked as hard as I can and did what I felt they told me to do, and they told me they didn't need my services anymore," Berry said. "You always know this is a business and stuff like this can happen and does happen. They have their reasons. The bottom line was I wasn't getting the job done. I'm sure my good friend will do a good job."
Berry, 44, took over as hitting coach on Sept. 12, 2006, after spending the '05 season and the first half of the '06 campaign as the club's Minor League hitting coordinator. He began his coaching career in '03 with Double-A Round Rock, where he remained for two years.
Berry, a former teammate of Bagwell with the Astros, believes he will do a good job in his new role. Berry told general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills he would do whatever he could to help make the transition easier for Bagwell.
"I care about those players," Berry said. "I want them to do well and I want Jeff to do well, and the Astros to do well. I'm going to help them as much as I can. It's going to be a little different and a little strange, but I'm going to help them in any way I can."
The Astros stumbled out of the gate this season because of their offensive struggles. Sluggers Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence all got off to slow starts, which severely hampered the club's ability to score runs.
Berry said the club never told him why he was being let go.
"It just didn't work out," Berry said. "It worked out for a long time. I definitely think I made my mark and helped a lot of players. Sometimes in this business, this coaching business, the reasons aren't always clear, but we're not winning enough ballgames and some good players are having off years. I don't lay the blame at anybody, other than myself."
Berry, who missed part of last year to remove a cancerous kidney, said he can take some satisfaction in the way outfielder Michael Bourn blossomed into an All-Star this season after a slow start with the Astros in 2008 and how Pence developed into an All-Star player last year.
"That's the best part about my job," Berry said. "You show up and you have your Berkmans and those guys, but you do more coaching than people think. That's why I still think it's my responsibility for them, too. The young guys got to the All-Star Game, Michael this year and Hunter last year. I'm very proud of them, but the best part of my job -- the young guys coming here with their eyes wide open and trying to teach them what's around the corner. It's the best part of what I do."
Berry said the Astros have offered him a chance to remain in the organization.
"I'm going to go home and re-evaluate what my goals are," Berry said. "They would like me to stay. I don't want to leave. I did a lot of work here. I want to get back to where we used to be, like when I was a player and when I was a coaching. Sometimes you have to go through the hard times to find good times. That's part of the business, and we'll get the icing on the cake."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.