Notes: Garner clears air with Guillen
Manager pokes fun at misunderstanding with photos
CHICAGO -- Labeled "handshake-gate" by the Chicago Sun-Times, the rift between White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Astros manager Phil Garner appears to be over -- especially considering Garner never was aware that it had started in the first place.
Earlier in the week, Guillen made comments to the local media insinuating that Garner refused to shake his hand before Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.
Garner immediately called Guillen and confronted him about the report, and Guillen backed off his comments, claiming his only issue was how the Astros reacted after the Commissioner forced the team to open the roof at Minute Maid Park for Games 3 and 4.
But Guillen's original rant had already spread through Houston, and Garner was forced to address an issue that caught him completely off guard.
Garner dealt with the controversy with a sense of humor, going as far as to post printouts of two pictures on his bulletin board in his office at Minute Maid Park. One was a shot of he and Guillen hugging at home plate. The other showed the two managers shaking hands.
Garner brought the pictures with him to U.S. Cellular Field and posted them in his office on Friday.
"A picture's worth a thousand words, isn't it?" he laughed.
Garner took issue not only with the fact that Guillen's accusation wasn't true, but also that Guillen vented his frustrations to the press instead of dealing with the issue one-on-one.
"This is a small community," Garner said of the baseball fraternity. "If you think that I have an issue, call me and say, 'What's the deal about that?' If I have a problem, I'll say it, and you can do whatever you want to with that. Just like I did [when I called] him. I didn't then call in the press and say, 'I don't know where this guy is coming from.' I picked the phone up and called him directly."
Berkman designated: The Astros have begun a nine-game stretch of games in American League parks, which gives Garner ample time to give his sluggers somewhat of a rest as he utilizes the designated hitter.
First up was Lance Berkman, who hit in his usual No. 3 spot in the order but served as the designated hitter, while Mike Lamb played first base.
Garner plans to use Berkman and Craig Biggio as DHs, and he also may consider DH-ing Preston Wilson a time or two. Garner had planned to DH Morgan Ensberg, too, but because the third baseman missed so much time nursing a sore shoulder, Garner will continue to give him regular playing time at his position.
"He's had enough days off," Garner said.
Berkman has dealt with knee issues this season, but he doesn't view his time as a DH as a much-needed chance to rest.
"My knee feels pretty good, and it has for a while," he said. "I feel like that's kind of behind me. But anytime you can do something that breaks up the monotony or the routine, I think it's good. Certainly, DH-ing is not something you get to do every day. I enjoy the break from the routine."
Many National League players don't like DH-ing. Jeff Bagwell hated it, because he had too much time to sit around and think about his at-bats, especially the bad ones. Berkman has a different opinion.
"I think about my at-bats on the field, anyway," he said. "Whether I'm standing out there playing defense, or on the bench, it's not going to matter to me, because I'm always thinking about what I do, what I'm going to do."
Biggio sidelined: After reaggravating a nagging shoulder issue on Friday, Biggio confirmed he will rest on Saturday and likely will be the DH in the finale on Sunday night.
Biggio left the game in the seventh inning on Friday after feeling soreness in the shoulder -- remnants of a minor injury he suffered while making a diving play during the Astros' series in St. Louis at the end of May.
Biggio said he wasn't overly concerned about any long-term effects the injury may have.
"It was getting better," he said. "I'm not concerned. It's something I can deal with. Tonight, it got me pretty good."
What's in a name? Among the more insignificant differences between games played during the regular season and those during the World Series is the quality of the nameplates above the players' lockers. In the visitors' clubhouse during the regular season, the names are written on an erasable slate with a marker. During the World Series, a much jazzier nameplate sits above the lockers, complete with the World Series logo and a fancy typeface that bears the player's name.
Last year, reliever Dan Wheeler was 0-for-2 in that regard. Prior to the first World Series game at U.S. Cellular Field, his name plate said, "Don Wheeler." The next day, it was fixed -- sort of. This time, it said, "Dan Wheller."
Thankfully, Don/Dan Wheeler-Wheller has in his possession the nameplate used during the World Series games played at Minute Maid Park. Mercifully, his name was spelled correctly the first time at home.
"That one was bigger anyway," Wheeler said.
Record audience: Roger Clemens' return to the Astros on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins produced the team's highest TV rating of the season on FSN Houston. The telecast from Minute Maid Park scored a 6.7 Nielsen household rating and 10 share in Houston, surpassing the year's previous high of 6.3 on May 4 against St. Louis.
The telecast drew its largest audience during Clemens' five innings, averaging a 7.3 rating and 11 share from 7:00-8:45 p.m. CT. An average of 129,000 homes in Houston watched the entire game, while an average of 142,000 home tuned in while Clemens was on the mound.
Odds and ends: Thirteen-year-old Conor Biggio, Craig's oldest son, conducted the pregame interview with Berkman for the local FSN telecast. Among the questions were, "Did Cubs fans really throw Twinkies at you during a game at Wrigley Field?" ... While Clemens usually does not accompany the club to road series when he's not pitching, he flew with the team to Chicago Thursday night. Clemens will make his next start on Tuesday in Detroit, and his next outing after that is July 3 at home against the Cubs.
Coming up: The Astros and White Sox meet again on Saturday for a regionally televised matcup on FOX, beginning at 12:15 p.m. CT. Right-hander Taylor Buchholz (4-6, 5.82 ERA) will face White Sox righty Jon Garland (6-3, 5.58 ERA).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.