Notes: Biggio takes family leave

Notes: Biggio takes family leave

CHICAGO -- Craig Biggio plans to fly to Houston on Sunday after the series finale in Chicago and then fly to St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon, in time to join the Astros for the opener of their two-game set with the Cardinals.

Biggio's mother will undergo open heart surgery in Houston on Tuesday morning, As soon as he knows everything is OK, he will hop on a plane and head to St. Louis.

"When I get the word that everything is successful, I have a plane to [catch] at 1:45 p.m. CT, which gets me to St. Louis at 3:45," he said. "So I'll be able to play that night."

If Biggio decides on Tuesday that he needs to remain in Houston an extra day, that will be fine, too, because it will give him two full days of rest before heading into the final stages of the regular season, and if all goes well, the playoffs.

"If he needs to stay with his mom, that's important," manager Phil Garner said. "If it means we don't have him that day, it's not all bad. I've tried to get him his days off around [team] off-days, anyway."

Getting some rest on the bench this time of year isn't such a bad thing for Biggio, either.

"Extra guys have to be sharp, too," Garner said. "Biggio's our best player, and that's why he's out there. But you still have to have your bench guys sharp enough to help you when you need them to step up and come up with a hit."

We are family: Brad Lidge looks forward to the Astros' trips to Chicago every year, mainly because it gives him a chance to visit with his grandparents, who live in nearby Barrington, Ill.

Lidge's grandfather, Ralph Lidge Sr., had a stroke last year, preventing him from attending any Astros games at Wrigley. This year, the elder Lidge was feeling strong enough to go to a game, which thrilled his grandson.

"It was great to see him out and around," Lidge said. "He had energy all night. It was awesome to see him. He's walking, but with a cane. He's doing all right. He hadn't been out in a couple of months."

Good times: Throughout September, Astros general manager Tim Purpura called up several Minor League coaches and managers to spend a couple of weeks with the big club.

Coaches were with the team on a rotating basis, and Charley Taylor, the pitching coach for the Class-A affiliate in Lexington, accompanied the Astros on their trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago. Class A Salem coach Stan Boroski will join the team for the last week of the regular season.

For Taylor, the longest tenured coach in the system with 24 years of service, the trip to Wrigley was his favorite part of the experience.

"That's what I've been looking forward to since I found out about this," he said. "To be able to experience a ballgame and actually get on the field at Wrigley is a big thrill."

Taylor isn't alone in that sentiment. When they finally make it to Tthe Show, most rookies aren't picky when it comes to which ballparks they prefer to visit. But playing at tradition-rich Wrigley Field usually gives newcomers an extra thrill when they play in Chicago for the first time.

For outfielder Luke Scott, the Friendly Confines lived up to the hype.

"It was like my first trip to Yankee Stadium [as a fan]," he said. "There's a lot of history here. The fans are pretty cool. Some are a little rowdy, but they've got good fans here."

Signs, everywhere signs: Garner held a short meeting prior to Sunday's game, just to make sure all his players were on the same page regarding signs.

Garner did not say whether this meeting was necessitated by any missed signs this week.

"Just a refresher course," Garner said.

Coming up: The Astros will enjoy their final day off on Monday before beginning a two-game set in St. Louis Tuesday. Right-hander Roy Oswalt (18-12, 2.91 ERA) will face Cardinals righty Matt Morris (14-9, 3.97 ERA).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.