© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/21/05 6:57 PM ET
Garner mum on who'll be Astros' DH
Bagwell or Lamb? Manager to announce decision Saturday
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Phil Garner didn't reveal who will be the designated hitter for the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series against the White Sox on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
But his choices are simple: Jeff Bagwell or Mike Lamb.
"I'm going to make the decision [Saturday]," Garner said with a mischievous wink and a giggle before his team worked out late Friday afternoon. "I'll have it by noon."
Lamb, a left-handed hitter who played all four games in the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis right-handed starters, would be the logical choice against Chicago right-hander Jose Contreras. But sentiment is for the right-handed hitting Bagwell, who was limited by an injured right shoulder this season and has had only three pinch-hit appearances during the postseason.
"I think [Garner] knows I can do it, but he needs to do what's best for ballclub," said the 37-year-old Bagwell, who is a 15-year veteran, all of them with the Astros. "I haven't talked to him, nor is it my place to. He knows what I want, but then again, you have to put away all the years I've been here and what I've done. You have to look at what's good for our ballclub in this particular moment."
The National League team is allowed the luxury of utilizing the DH in all World Series games played in the American League ballpark, and Garner said he will evaluate all the possibilities.
"I don't think there's going to be anything I might not consider," he said. "But certainly, Baggy is going to get a lot of consideration there. I like to have Lamb in the lineup. He's the guy who can give us some clutch hits. I do have an idea what I want to do with the lineup, but I'm not going to announce it until [Saturday]."
Bagwell missed 115 games this season after undergoing capsular release surgery on his right shoulder. He went on the disabled list on May 4 and wasn't activated until Sept. 9. Since then, he's been limited to pinch-hitting duty and has been unable to play the field. He had his toughest Major League season, hitting .250 (25-for-100) with three homer and 19 RBIs in 39 games.
Garner said during the NLCS that Bagwell was still not equipped to play first base and he was limited in the options as far as using him.
"My shoulder feels all right," Bagwell said. "It's not 100 percent yet. But I can do some things. I can throw a little bit, but I would never do that to this ballclub, risk something happening in the ballgame because I can't throw. That's not right. This is too special a moment for this ballclub for me to worry about myself being on the field."
Still, he's been on the 25-man playoff roster from the outset, even though he pinch-hit only twice, with one hit, in the Division Series against the Braves, and pinch-hit against the Cardinals only in the eighth inning of Game 3, grounding back to the mound.
Lamb, meanwhile, is 6-for-22 (.272) with two homers, a double and three RBIs in his six postseason games. His fourth-inning, two-run homer in Game 4 at Houston against Cards right-hander Matt Morris sent the Astros and Roger Clemens to a 4-3 victory.
But sometimes loyalty is thicker than strategy.
"I can tell you I'm excited to no end that Bagwell is with us now," Garner said. "He could have taken the rest of the year just to rehab, which is probably a lot of the advice that he received. He decided to push it a little bit, try to come back this year just in case. It turns out it was a pretty good decision. We'll be able to utilize Baggy and I'm happy for it."