“The adrenaline is enough as it is,” Bagwell said. “I can play DH.”
Sure he can. So could Gary Gaetti, the Astros’ hitting coach. But neither Bagwell nor Gaetti is the bat that Houston needs in the lineup”not against right-hander Jose Contreras in Game 1 and probably not even against lefty Mark Buehrle in Game 2.
The truth is this: Bagwell (above) finds himself with an incredibly emotional dilemma. He’s a player who has always done things the right way, and the right thing now for his team is the wrong thing for him.
Bagwell needs to go to Garner and tell him that he’s given it a lot of thought and the right thing is to play someone else, most likely the dangerous Mike Lamb.
If Garner starts this version of Bagwell, one held together by grit and anti-inflammatory medicine, he will be doing the White Sox a huge favor. And Garner is going to have a hard time dealing with the repercussions if Bagwell wants to play and he doesn’t play him.
If you haven’t been watching, it’s hard to believe, but the Astros’ best lineup right now does not include Bagwell. Like the White Sox’s Frank Thomas (born on May 27, 1968, the same day as Bagwell), he’s a borderline Hall of Famer whose body is failing him.
For Thomas, there was no decision to make. He hurried to come back from the stress fracture in his left ankle by June and lasted only until July 20, when a new fracture was discovered in the ankle.
Scouts believe the Astros will be making a mistake if Garner allows sentiment to dictate his using the diminished Bagwell as his DH. The better idea, a number of them agree, is to use that spot”at least against right-handers”to start Lamb (6-for-22 with two home runs and a double in the playoffs) without moving Lance Berkman from first base to left field.