DH pick from the heart: Bagwell


World Series


CHICAGO -- Houston Astros manager Phil Garner said he selected his designated hitter for last night's game solely based on who would best help his club win.

He held fast to that notion for about a minute during his pre-game news conference before the truth trickled out. There was no way Garner's move to include Jeff Bagwell in the Astros' first World Series game could have been made without part of it coming from the heart.

"I shouldn't say it was purely a baseball decision, because there's no question there is some sentimentality here," Garner said. "You guys heard me say all along that this organization is what it is because of what Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio have been."

Bagwell, 37, is a favorite in Houston and a favorite of Garner's. That's what happens when you play your entire 15-season big league career with one team and do it at an All-Star level.

The dominating days are behind Bagwell, thanks to a painful right shoulder that forced him to miss 115 games. But Garner thinks he can still help this postseason despite no longer being able to play first base.

Last night, Bagwell contributed more with his body than his bat, getting hit by a pitch two times. He flied out and struck out in his other two plate appearances.

After early-season surgery, Bagwell rehabbed with the hopes of making it back, which he did in September. He had three singles in 12 pinch-hit at-bats and was included on the postseason roster.

He had one hit in three pinch-hit appearances in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but didn't start until last night, when the Astros used the DH because they were playing in an American League park.

Garner said Bagwell was excited when told about the start, but, "He wanted to make sure I felt he was the right guy for the job."

Aparicio's first pitch

Luis Aparicio, a Hall of Fame shortstop and a co-leader along with the late Nellie Fox on the 1959 "Go-Go White Sox," threw out the ceremonial first pitch last night. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen caught the bouncing throw from his fellow Venezuelan.

"It's amazing," Guillen said. "I think he's the best player ever to come from my country."

Aparicio, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, played 10 of his 18 seasons with the White Sox. He also played for the Orioles and Boston Red Sox.

Coming home

Houston general manager Tim Purpura couldn't have picked a better matchup for his club's first World Series. He grew up in Chicago as a White Sox fan and said he still has some autographed baseballs from his youth, including one signed by Aparicio.

There was a drawback to the homecoming, though. He had to come up with 30 World Series tickets for friends and family.

"It wasn't easy," he said.

Around the horn

Before starting lineups were introduced, Frank Thomas, the longtime White Sox slugger who has been injured most of the season, was announced to the sellout crowd. He received one of the loudest ovations of the night. ... The first pitch of the series was a called strike by Chicago's Jose Contreras to Biggio at 7:05 p.m. CDT. The first out was Biggio's grounder to third baseman Joe Crede. The first hit, first home run and first run came in the bottom of the first when Chicago's Jermaine Dye homered to right against Roger Clemens.



(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

Houston vs. Chicago White Sox

(Chicago leads series, 1-0)

Yesterday -- Chicago 5, Houston 3

Today -- Houston (Pettitte 17-9) @Chicago (Buehrle 16-8), 8:09 p.m.

Tuesday -- Chicago (Garland 18-10) @Houston (Oswalt 20-12), 8:38 p.m.

Wednesday -- Chicago (Garcia 14-8) @Houston (Backe 10-8), 8:33 p.m.

*Thursday -- Chicago@Houston, 8:28 p.m.

*Next Saturday -- Houston@Chicago, 7:58 p.m.

*Oct. 30 -- Houston@Chicago, 8:13 p.m.

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