Notes: Bagwell lobbied to DH
Veteran gently worked Garner to get the start in Game 1
CHICAGO -- Following the Astros' win on Wednesday in St. Louis that clinched the National League pennant, Jeff Bagwell began lobbying manager Phil Garner -- very gently -- to be the designated hitter in Game 1 of the World Series.
Bagwell also told the skipper to make the best decision for the team and to toss the sentimental factor aside.
"He has a responsibilty for 24 other guys, and that's what's most important; not just getting Jeff Bagwell a chance to get a chance to hit in the World Series," Bagwell said. "It's a chance for us to win a World Series, and it has to be about that."
Garner did insert Bagwell into the lineup as the DH, batting sixth. Garner made the decision, he said, based on fact, not potential feel-good stories.
"There's obviously that emotion," Garner said. "I am very happy that I am able to do that. But the reason he is on the team in the first place -- and [general manager] Tim [Purpura] and I discussed it; we discussed it at length -- we all felt like he can help us, and that goes back to the playoff roster.
"The reason he's DH-ing tonight is because I think he can help us win."
Said Bagwell: "I told Phil I don't want this to be a charity case or sentimental pick. That's not what Phil is about. He's a standup guy and he's going to be honest with me. This is what he wanted. He wanted me to be here and he wanted me to get an opportunity to play, because he thinks I can do something."
Bagwell has had a limited role through the postseason, making only three plate appearances in 10 playoff games in the first two rounds -- two in the Division Series, one in the NL Championship Series.
But with 449 career home runs on his resume, Bagwell was the logical choice, in Garner's view, to bolster his lineup in preparation for two days of American League baseball.
"We're not talking about chopped liver here," Garner said. "Yeah, he had surgery and he's not swung the bat like we know Bagwell has in the past, which is with power. But he's still a guy that's going to give you a great at-bat, and he can get you a great at-bat when the game's on the line."
Plus, there's the added element of Bagwell's reputation.
"Look how he was pitched to when he came in to games," Purpura said. "You see the manager, the pitching coach run out to the mound when he gets into the box. He's still respected. He still can be a force in the lineup and he can still give you good at-bats."
What, me worry? Believe it or not, the tension level among Astros players now, compared to during the NLCS, is seemingly a lot lower.
Hitting coach Gary Gaetti, who played for the World Series champion Twins in the 1987, said the pressure to get to the World Series and the pressure to win the World Series are entirely different.
"It's not like the Championship Series, where you're so close to getting there," Gaetti said. "Now that you're here, you can relax."
"The ultimate goal is to win the World Series," he said. "But if you don't get there, you can't win it.
"Except for the fact that there's so much more attention on our guys, the time I've spent around them, they've been pretty loose. They're enjoying the experience, but they also know they've got a job to do."
Hey now, you're an All-Star: The last thing Garner is thinking about right now is next year's All-Star Game, but he did admit it was neat that he's going to be the National League manager in Pittsburgh, the very city where he won the World Series as a player.
"That has been brought up," he said. "It's funny how those things happen."
Garner harkens back to the 1979 Pirates often, and he considers his years in Pittsburgh among the happiest of his professional life. He especially liked the Phil Garner action figure the Pirates gave away during the 2004 season, when the Pirates celebrated a season-long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of that World Series club.
Garner, as he is quick to remind folks, hit .500 in that series.
Ryan Express: After some coaxing from Purpura, Nolan Ryan agreed to fly to Chicago for Game 1 of the World Series. But it's likely he'll sneak in and out of town unnoticed, because he told Purpura that he prefers to stay in the background as the Astros begin their pursuit of their first World Series championship.
"You will not see him on the field [during batting practice]," Purpura said. "He said, 'I'll come, but I do not want to get in the way, I don't want to cause any problems.' He just wants to watch the ballgame. It's great to have him here."
Modern technology: Thanks to e-mail, several pretty busy people were able to send their congratulations to club owner Drayton McLane in a quick, concise manner.
After the Astros clinched the National League pennant Wednesday night, both former President George Bush and President George W. Bush sent congratulatory e-mails.
McLane also heard from Rangers owner Tom Hicks.
"He was one of the first to contact me," McLane said.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.