10/23/05 6:58 PM ET
Jeff Bagwell pregame interview
Designated hitter discusses getting back in the lineup
By / MLB.com
JEFF BAGWELL: Who is that?
Isn't Burke -- how old is he?
BAGWELL: No, 25.
Most of our kids on our team can't understand what we've been through, when you're -- obviously you have some older guys with Andy and Roger who have experienced the postseason and being in the World Series and winning it. Jose is an older guy. But a lot of the younger guys, they're lucky in their first one, two, three years, they've got a chance not only getting to the postseason, but getting to the World Series. And it's a long road to get there. It just doesn't happen to every single team.
Obviously there are some teams out there that get an opportunity like the Yankees almost every single year, but we're not like that. And we've had some real good times. We've had some real bad times. We've had some disappointments. But it must be nice when you're that young to get this opportunity. But the good part is that they get a taste of it and hopefully when us old guys get out of here, that will keep this winning atmosphere we've had in Houston for the last 10, 12 years.
Your thoughts, your take on the health of Roger Clemens and Phil just mentioned earlier, don't count the Rocket out for the rest of the series. Is that the feeling inspect the clubhouse, as well?
BAGWELL: Yeah, he didn't look real good last night. Of course there was probably a lot of things going through his mind right there, that he had to come out of the game and his hamstring is bothering him. It's frustrating for injuries to keep coming up like that, especially in this big stage. I probably, I agree with that. I wouldn't count Rocket out. This is the reason why he came here is to get us to this spot, and I'm sure he doesn't -- he wants to make a good showing of it. And I think you're going to see him back on the mound.
When you see and feel the energy of the fans in Chicago for the World Series how anxious does it make you want to get back to Houston and see what a World Series game will be like there?
BAGWELL: I'd like to get back to Houston with a split in the series first. But I know the fans back in Houston are going to be crazy. The last two postseasons they've been just so loud, into every pitch, I couldn't as the White Sox fans were last night, standing up almost the entire time, great energy. It was very loud last night and that was the fun part. That's the fun part about this thing. I know our fans are not going to disappoint either.
Neither team seemed overwhelmed or awed by the World Series experience last night. But were there some butterflies? How did you deal with them and what did you make of the whole experience?
BAGWELL: You know, that was probably the calmest I was the whole postseason. I don't know exactly why that is. I was dying in the St. Louis series, I was dying in the Atlanta series. Of course I haven't been playing, so I'm more of a fan than anything else. But playing last night I really didn't have the butterflies. And that's okay, I've got no problem telling you I do get butterflies at times. But once you get on home plate or up in the field that goes away. To a man, if you ask everybody, they'll say they were very relaxed in this situation. And maybe it's because we've been in the postseason for the last couple of years and played special big games that guys are more relaxed.
BAGWELL: That's interesting to me, too, that I get second guessed for striking out on a hundred mile an hour fastball (laughter). I'd like to see people hit that one. I'll tell you what, if anything for me it went a long way. As I said after the game, my only fault in that at-bat is I didn't get the ball down as much as I should have in the first couple of swings. But my bat head was there, which means I can get the bat head to it, I just need to get it down.
Anytime you face a guy who throws that hard you have to try to get the ball down, because it's so hard to hit an elevated pitch. So I'm very happy in that fact. All I know is that if I get in that opportunity again that I will really, really concentrate on getting the ball down. I think that went a long way for me.
You've been with Roger now a couple of years. From your perspective what is it about him that when you think he can't go, he finds a way to go which is why no one is counting him out right now; what is it about him?
BAGWELL: I guess just his track record and he's Rocket. He's just a special individual. Sometimes your will can go a lot farther than your body. You're going to feel aches and pains, but if you can find a way to get out there and make the pitches like he can, obviously nobody knows his mechanics better than Rocket. And I don't know, he's just -- you know, you've been around long enough to know, the legend grows every day with him. I just think it can be another special time.
What's your theory on how the team has been able to take advantage of the park down in Houston as well as it has? Is it the right-handed hitting, is it more to the specs of your team or the fans, something intangible?
BAGWELL: I think the fans are a big part of it. I think the energy that they bring really helps our guys out. I think the park, itself -- we've been very fortunate, our shares may improve in the first row of the Crawford Boxes, they've gotten a lot of balls for us. And we've always said Minute Maid can sometimes help you and sometimes it can hurt you. But our left-handers and our right-handers have found that over there. For our left-handers it's just good hitting. Our right-handers it's good hitting, too. We really don't care. I think that's part of the thing that helps us is sometimes pitchers come in and they'll give up a cheap home run and they get rattled by it. Our guys who have been there, they understand it. Sometimes there's a ball that goes in the first row of the Crawford boxes. They don't get rattled by that, because that's just the way it is.
Some of the second guessing about your striking out on a 100 mile an hour fastball is also the fact that there is a belief that you are on the team because of your emotion. Why don't you tell us that if you didn't feel you could be capable of helping your team that then you would tell the manager that. Talk about that?
BAGWELL: That's exactly right. I mean, when I came back we decided to give it a try to see how I would do. I went down to Corpus and had a few at-bats down there. We came back to the team and said, let's go. I can give you a good at bat. I don't know what my power was. And this is in the middle of the September. But I think I can help the team, I really do. I feel like that I'm going to give a good at-bat. I'm a lot stronger now. I can hit a home run now. I can hit a base hit to right. And I have been in these situations, big situations where I got second and third or I got guys in scoring position. I can get a walk. I can do whatever it takes to try to help this team win. And I think our -- I believe in that, I believe in that, Gar believes in that and my teammates do, too.
Second guess all you want. I think that's easy to do in that situation, but I think it's a little unfair, too. You have to look at the situation and what happened. But I think Gar feels very, very comfortable of putting me in the lineup and I think all my teammates do, too, and that's all that matters.
Do you recall any real goofy plays involving the hill in center like Biggio having trouble coming back down?
BAGWELL: Yes, he had a couple of face plants on that. Willy made a hell of a play on a big play for us on the last series yeah, that was against that kid Rodriguez. That was a huge play for us that game. I've seen Andruw Jones make a couple of plays out there. It's very difficult if you've not played there long enough and practiced it to get the feel of running at full speed and then running uphill not looking. It doesn't happen that often, probably four times a year, maybe. But if you can manage it the right way like Willy did, obviously it can help. But you really don't see it that much.
This team's resilience has been tested all year. You have been so good about coming back from tough things. You've been down a game, you've lost Rocket for the series. It's a test. What makes it so resilient, where does that come from?
BAGWELL: I'm not exactly sure where it comes from, maybe we're blessed with young kids and veterans that do believe in themselves. But I've never seen a team believe for themselves and pull for each other more than this ballclub. And every single time people have given up on this club they've responded. And I don't know if that's just the chemistry we have in our club or it's our starting pitcher tonight. I don't know what it is. But we seem -- we just seem to always get back up and fight and do well. Like Game 5 in St. Louis when pool hose hit the home run, everybody was counting us out. They're done, they're just going to kill themselves, and we come out the next night and take it to them. And that's what our club does. And I fully expect that to happen again.
When a team is scraping for runs like you were last night, how deflating can it be when Crede made the plays he did at third base?
BAGWELL: Obviously you can look at that situation and get deflated and all that. We had some good at bats and he did make some great plays for them and those are the types of things in the postseason that you look back and you go, oh, yeah, he made those great plays, what would have been if those balls got through? That's the key in these types of games is to get the runners in, less than two outs, to move guys over when you have to do it and the team that usually does that better usually wins. Last night they did it better than we did. And we didn't do as good a job as we should have. Those things happen, too. That's why they have great pitchers and great fielders and those kinds of things. Last night it was deflating, but today is totally different.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.