Sitting out is tough on Berkman

Just so you know, it’s killing Lance Berkman not be in the lineup for the final two games of the St. Louis series. He admits he’s getting paid too much money to sit on the bench, the but the reality is that Berkman would hurt the Astros even more if he tried to play through his calf strain and went on the disabled list.

There’s a reason I picked Berkman as the team’s MVP at mid-season, and not just because he leads the Astros in nearly every offensive category except for batting average. One of the reasons the Astros got off to such a miserable start is Berkman got off to a bad start. Without him, their lineup isn’t nearly as good.

Berkman said the precedent sent by Astros icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio makes it hard for him to sit when injured. Biggio went on the disabled list once in his 20-year career, and Bagwell played through a painful shoulder condition as he career wound down.

“There’s a lot to be said for the way those guys conducted themselves,” Berkman said. “You can’t get away from Baggy and Bidge here because they were the ultimate professionals on the field and played the game hard. Other guys like AusmusBrad is the toughest pretty boy I’ve ever been around in my life — he’d catch and have all kinds of things and you’d never know about it.

“They set a standard a lot of guys have followed, and we’ve always been an organization that if we can get out on the field that’s what you should do. We have an obligation to the fans and an obligation to the organization and to your teammates most of all to all to play if at all possible.”

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Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez believes the Astros are in the midst of something special, and he should know. He was the starting catcher for the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins, who overcome a slot start to make the playoffs and win it all. The Marlins were 48-45 through 93 games in 2003 (the Astros are 47-46).

“We had a bad first half and we came back and finished 20 games over .500 and were able to get to the playoffs and win the World Series,” he said. “That’s baseball. We have to go out there and play hard every day.”

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Astros general manager Ed Wade said he had good reports on Doug Brocail‘s first rehab outing Monday at Triple-A Round Rock. Brocail, who has been out since May 4 with a left hamstring strain, threw one hitless inning with one strikeout for the Express in the first of six scheduled rehab outings.

“Doug had a real good outing last night at Round Rock and threw one inning and had to cover first base on the last hitter he faced,” Wade said. “He threw 14 pitches and went to the bullpen and threw 11 more to get to 25. He came through it great. That’s a big move in the right direction to get him in there.”

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