Bag­well to coach Astros’ bat­ters

For­mer Hous­ton slug­ger will try his hand at lead­er­ship

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Kristie Rieken

HOUS­TON — For­mer Astros All-Star Jeff Bag­well is tak­ing over as Hous­ton’s hit­ting coach af­ter the team fired Sean Berry on Sun­day.

Berry, who held the job for five years, be­came “a vic­tim of cir­cum­stances” as the of­fense sput­tered this sea­son, gen­eral man­ager Ed Wade said. He be­lieves the of­fense can do more and hopes Bag­well helps that hap­pen.

“We know we can get bet­ter, but we also know there are play­ers here that should be bet­ter and hope­fully with a dif­fer­ent voice in Jeff Bag­well, they’ll rec­og­nize the mea­sure of ac­count­abil­ity that they have in this whole process so we will get bet­ter,” Wade said.

Bag­well had been think­ing about what his next chal­lenge would be when Wade ap­proached him about the po­si­tion.

“There comes a point in time where you re­al­ize you have to do some­thing and that your life has to go on,” Bag­well said. “I’m 42 years old and it’s time for me to do some­thing else. This is what I know. I know base­ball. Hope­fully we’re go­ing to find out in a cou­ple of months that I know a lit­tle about hit­ting, too.”

The move gives Hous­ton hit­ters a chance to work with one of the most beloved and suc­cess­ful play­ers in fran­chise his­tory.

In 15 sea­sons with the As- re­places Sean Berry as Astros’ hit­ting coach. tros, the for­mer first base­man set club records with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs. Bag­well was the Na­tional League rookie of the year in 1991 and the NL’s MVP in 1994. The move is a trial run. “This is 21⁄ months to see if I’m any good at it. Can I get some re­sults out of these guys and ul­ti­mately is this some­thing that I want to do full time?” Bag­well said.

Wade knows great play­ers don’t nec­es­sar­ily make good coaches, but be­lieves Bag­well will be suc­cess­ful.

“He’s very level­headed,” Wade said. “He com­mu­ni­cates very well, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to the nu­ances of the game. We’ve seen him have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on some of our mi­nor league hit­ters with the in­for­ma­tion he’s able to con­vey. He’s got the in­ter­est and the pas­sion in do­ing this.”

The Astros have the sec­ond-worst bat­ting av­er­age in the ma­jors (.237), the worst on-base per­cent­age (.295) and tied for 28th with just 57 home runs. Only Seat­tle and Pitts­burgh have fewer hits than Hous­ton.

“I haven’t hit, and Car­los (Lee) hasn’t hit like he can, and oth­ers haven’t, and it’s not Sean’s fault,” Lance Berk­man said. “It’s one of those things that when things aren’t go­ing well with the play­ers. You have to shake some­thing up and the most ex­pend­able pieces a lot of times are the coach­ing staff.”

Jeff Bag­well

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