Biggio not taking milestone for granted

Biggio not taking milestone for granted

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It took some coaxing, but after a few minutes, Craig Biggio finally acknowledged the enormity of what he's about to embark upon this season.

Biggio, 70 hits from 3,000, attempted to downplay the upcoming journey when approached by reporters upon his arrival to the clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium on Wednesday. It's not that he doesn't appreciate what it would mean to become the 27th player in history to reach the 3,000 hit plateau. It's just that at this point, on the eve of his 20th Major League Spring Training, he'd rather pace himself, realizing the chaos that will follow him as soon as the regular season commences.

"If and when we start getting closer, it'll start getting interesting," Biggio said. "Right now, my preparation is going out there and playing and getting ready for a normal season."

Wednesday was a typical day in the life of Biggio in many ways, both good and bad. He was excited to begin another baseball season, but sad to say goodbye to his family, which consists of three kids old enough to understand how much this game keeps Dad away from home.

"The boys, and my daughter, understand how long the season is," Biggio said, referring to Conor, age 14, Cavan, 11 and Quinn, 7. "Daddy's got to go, Daddy's never there, Daddy misses the softball games. That's the toughest part of our job. Anybody who's been around long enough understands it."

Biggio has also been around long enough for his kids to remember watching him play. The two boys have been a fixture in the Astros clubhouse, at home and occasionally on the road, ever since they could walk, and Quinn, while too young to have remembered Biggio's 2,000th hit in 2001, is now as much of a regular in the stands at Minute Maid Park as her big brothers.

She also knows how to lay on the guilt. Last year, she got a game-winning hit in her championship softball game, and after the team charged onto the field in victorious elation, Quinn sent a text message to Craig, who was on the road:

"The greatest moment that you've ever missed."

Biggio laughed at the memory, but the impact stayed with him. In that respect, reaching 3,000 hits is as much for his family -- wife Patty, and the three kids -- as it is for him.

He wants to log the big hit for his loved ones, and then for the fans, in that order.

"The family pays the biggest price for what we do," Biggio said. "They enabled me to come here every year and go to work. We don't have any issues at home. If you've got a lot of issues at home, it makes it very difficult to come to work every day.

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"From the bottom of my heart, truthfully, I want it for them and for the fans. Obviously, [my family's] first. They're with me day in and day out. They deserve it. I might be the guy out there getting all the hits and this and that, but they're the ones paying the price."

Next is the city of Houston, which has been the Biggios' year-round home for about a decade. He wants to give the city bragging rights of having one of its own reach one of the more hallowed milestones in baseball.

"It's something that's such a small list, for the fans of Houston to be able to say, 'Hey, we have one of those guys,'" Biggio said. "That's a lot of motivation that I'm using to get it going, to give back to the fans. I can't think of anything better to give back to them than that."

And in a perfect world, he would get No. 3,000 at home.

"That would be awesome," he said. "You couldn't write a better story than that right there."

There's a realistic chance it could happen even without manager Phil Garner benching him for several games on the road. Based on his production in 2006, Biggio is on pace to log his 70th hit sometime in late June, or perhaps early July.

Following an extensive road trip from June 18-27, the Astros are home for 11 days leading into the All-Star break, from June 28-July 8.

"If I could write my own script, I'd get it there," Biggio said, referring to Minute Maid Park.

While Biggio's immediate future appears to be set for historical proportions, he played a bit more coy when talking about his plans beyond the 2007 season.

Will he keep playing? He has an idea of what he wants to do, but he's not ready to make any announcements.

"I'm focused on this year," Biggio said. "If the opportunity's right, we'll see how things go this year. I'll let everyone know what I'm thinking about.

"I have a feeling that I know what I'm going to do. When the time is right, I'll let everybody know."

He also promised to not renege on whatever decision he makes.

"If I tell you that I'm done, then I'll be done," Biggio said. "I won't be coming back."

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