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Astros reflect on Caminiti
10/11/2004 8:57 PM ET
ATLANTA -- In the hours prior to Game 5 of the Division Series at Turner Field, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus agreed that the best way to honor former teammate Ken Caminiti was to play with the same kind of passion that made Caminiti, a former National League MVP, one of the game's most respected players.

"I guess the only way we can look at it is the way he would look at it," Biggio said. "The best thing we could do right now is go out and win."

Caminiti, who died on Sunday from an apparent heart attack at the age of 41, was drafted by Houston in 1984 and played for the Astros from 1987-94 and again in '99 and 2000. He and Biggio were teammates beginning in 1988, and Bagwell joined them in 1991.

Caminiti had a series of drug problems after leaving baseball in 2001. Most recently, he received time served last week after being sentenced to 180 days in jail for violating his probation by testing positive for cocaine.

Bagwell and Biggio, who witnessed firsthand how drugs ruined Caminiti's career and life, especially during the former third baseman's second tour with the Astros, spoke in glowing terms when they reflected on their fallen friend's Major League career.

They also vowed the news of Caminiti's death would not affect them Monday in a game that many viewed as the most important in the history of the franchise.

"Cammy would want us to go out and play as hard as he would be out there playing," Bagwell said. "I think that's our greatest [way] to honor him."

"For those of us who knew Cammy, the most important thing is to remember the type of person he was and the type of player he was," said Ausmus, who played with Caminiti in 1995 and 1996 with the Padres. "He was inspirational the way he played the game and the way he sacrificed his body to make a play. The team came before him."

"I don't think it's going to have a negative effect tonight," said manager Phil Garner, who was a coach with the Astros when Caminiti played for Houston in the late '80s. "The guys who knew him best, which were Jeff, Craig and Brad Ausmus, were very realistic about it. Even though they loved him dearly, I think they were very fully aware of what Cammy was burdened with.

"It's something that we know our key players are saddened by. But I don't think it's something that will change their approach to the game or have an effect on the way they do things today."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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