Bagwell to coach Astros’ batters
Former Houston slugger will try his hand at leadership
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.”