Rice mentions Cooper in HOF speech

Near the end of Jim Rice‘s Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday he ran down a long list of people he wanted to thank, including former coaches and his family. One of the last people he mentioned was Astros manager Cecil Cooper, Rice’s former roommate and teammate with the Boston Red Sox.

The two have remained close friends through the years, and Cooper sent Rice a text message and voice mail Sunday to send along his congratulations. Here’s what Rice had to say about Cooper:

“And, of course, a good friend of mine, Cecil Cooper, my roomie, my ace, my buddy, my friend to the end.”

Cooper was touched by Rice’s words.

“Jimmy and I are good friends and have been friends a long, long time,” he said. “We go back to the early ’70s, and I’m just pleased that he’s in there, he’s a Hall of Famer. He deserves it.”

Cooper recorded the induction ceremony and watched it on the plane to Chicago on Sunday.

“I didn’t expect anything differently from Jim,” he said. “He’s a good guy. Our families are close and always visit each other during Thanksgiving. We’ve been doing that for over 30 years.”

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Astros infielder Darin Erstad, who’s been on the DL for a week with a hamstring strain, took some batting practice Monday, but it wasn’t a big deal to the gritty Erstad. He said the hamstring was never an issue while he was hitting, but the challenge will be when he begins running.

Also, Aaron Boone took some batting practice Monday in his quest to return to action from March heart surgery.

Manager Cecil Cooper said LaTroy Hawkins, who’s been suffering from upper back pain and shingles, would be available Monday after his MRI came back negative, and infielder Edwin Maysonet would rejoin the club Tuesday after he went home to Puerto Rico to be with his wife, who was expecting a child.

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