On Bagwell, Berkman, LeBron and Scott Sullivan.
Jeff Bagwell reflected upon his first day on the job as the Astros’ hitting coach with a touch of humor, threatening to pull a LeBron James while also revealing an interesting exchange with Lance Berkman.
The Astros hit enough Friday night to beat the Pirates, against whom they’re 7-0 this year, their best record against the Bucs to begin a season. Jeff Keppinger came up with a clutch homer and Humberto Quintero had two nice hits, but Berkman, who said before the game Bagwell was kind of like the dad you didn’t want to make mad, went 0-for-4.
“He disappointed me tonight,” Bagwell said, joking. “He got no hits.”
Apparently, Berkman found solace in this by bringing up a somewhat sore subject with Bagwell — his hitless streak against a former Reds right-hander named Scott Sullivan.
Sullivan had a nice career with the Reds, pitching the better part of nine seasons in middle relief. Not a headline grabber but certainly a decent pitcher in his own right. But he has one claim to fame — Bagwell absolutely, positively, could not hit him.
When side-armer Sullivan would run in from the bullpen, “I used to tell Dirk,” Bagwell said, referring to former manager Larry Dierker, “‘You’re really going to send me up there again?’”
And again, and again. In fact, Sullivan faced Bagwell more times in his career than any other player, ever.
Bagwell had 31 official plate appearances versus Sullivan, including 24 at-bats. And zero hits. If you look up “Sullivan vs. batters” on the Baseball Reference page, every hitter whom Sullivan ever faced is listed, and Bagwell is first, because his batting average against the former Reds righty is exactly .000. Bagwell has one RBI — via a sac fly — and has drawn six walks off Sullivan, three of which were intentional.
Bagwell’s success — or lack thereof — against Sullivan was so well-known back in the day that Berkman not only still remembers, but still uses it to get Bagwell’s goat.
“He just wanted to make me feel bad,” Bagwell said. “I said, ‘That’s about as low as you can go right there.’”
This was all in jest, of course. Bagwell, who is mindful of the good work Sean Berry did during his long tenure as the Astros’ hitting coach, is doing his best to deflect the attention from himself as the Astros try to salvage what they can during the second half of the season.
But Bagwell did acknowledge his “quick” start.
“I’m retiring,” he said. “I’m 1-0. I’m leaving. I’m going to play for the Heat.”
News and notes from Astros camp:
Felipe Paulino had a setback recently and it appears the tendinitis in his shoulder has flared up again. He’s flying back to Houston to have an MRI and will not make his scheduled start against the Cubs on Tuesday.
Also, righty Brian Moehler has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right groin, which he suffered during his last start before the All-Star break. Moehler’s DL stint will be backdated to July 8 and he will be eligible to return on July 23, when the team returns to Houston.
That will clear a roster spot for whomever the Astros decide to start in Paulino’s place on Tuesday.