Notes: Biggio begins farewell tour

Notes: Biggio begins farewell tour

HOUSTON -- The upcoming road trip will be anything but ordinary for Craig Biggio, who in the next month will say his final farewell to three cities and three ballparks that have meant a great deal to him over his 20-year Major League career.

First up is Wrigley Field, Biggio's all-time favorite road ballpark. He's played in 116 games at The Friendly Confines, his second-highest total of all road cities. Cincinnati is first with 130 games, while St. Louis is a close third with 114.

But for Biggio, nothing compares to Wrigley Field.

"This is my favorite park, always has been, always will be," he said. "We've had some fun. We've had some not fun, either. Wrigley Field is what it is. The wind's blowing out, the wind's blowing in, hot or cold, fans always come out. That's the one thing. They always come out. They love their Cubbies."

Biggio, whose playing time was cut after the All-Star break, will receive the majority of the starts in three cities considered to be his sentimental favorites: Chicago, St. Louis and New York. The Astros will visit St. Louis at the end of September and New York at the tail end of their upcoming road trip. This weekend in Chicago, he'll play Friday and most likely Sunday. He's willing to play in all three, but Chris Burke is probably going to get the start on Saturday.

He has yet to become emotional about saying goodbye to Wrigley Field, but he expects that will change toward the end of the weekend.

"You think about it when there's two outs in that last inning," he said. "Everybody that's ever played at Wrigley Field, that's the part of history that I love so much about that place. All the different stories that have been told in that ballpark."

Sunday will be Biggio's last game at Wrigley as a player, but he and a few special friends plan to show up someday, as fans in the stands. Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Casey Candaele and Brad Ausmus are determined to experience what it's like to be bleacher bums at some point, in the not-so-distant future.

"The bleachers seem to be more fun," Biggio said. "I think we have connections to get some tickets."

Gifts: After batting practice Wednesday, Biggio presented each one of his teammates with a specially-made bat commemorating his 3,000th hit, plus a game ticket from the day he logged the milestone hit -- June 28, 2007.

The bat is engraved with a design of a ball, the number 3,000, and a picture of a batter swinging. Biggio ordered 500 sets, for teammates, support staff and a myriad of people he's met throughout his 20-year journey through the Major Leagues.

"Just to say, thank you for being a friend," Biggio said. "For the guys in here [his teammates], it's just more of a, 'Thank you and sorry you had to talk about me for a half a year.' I know how they feel -- kind of like, 'Mercy, enough Biggio stories.'"

Lamb to the bench: Interim manager Cecil Cooper met with Mike Lamb on Wednesday to talk about playing time -- or, in Lamb's case, lack thereof.

With Lance Berkman playing exclusively at first base for the remainder of the season and Ty Wigginton tabbed as the club's third baseman, Lamb isn't likely to receive many starts through the last month of the season.

Cooper told Lamb he'll be a bench player, a pinch-hitter, and he'll receive a start from time to time when the club "faces a tough right-hander."

"I wanted to make sure he understood where I was coming from," Cooper said. "That's not to say he's not a valuable member, but Ty's a guy that's our third baseman and he has to play as much as possible.

"It's tough for [Lamb], too, because he's going to be a free agent. We talked and initially, and he was somewhat upset by it, frustrated. Later on, he came up to me and said, 'I understand.'"

Lamb started Thursday's game against the Cardinals, but it was his first start in five days. He can likely expect more of that in the future.

"It's always good to know what the manager's thinking, regardless of whether I like it or not," Lamb said. "At least I know what to expect. From that standpoint, it's good to know.

"I feel like I've performed when called upon and to continue to be put back on the bench is frustrating. But that's my job and my role for the last month of the season."

Staying put: Look for Hunter Pence to hit leadoff for the rest of the season, with either Biggio or Burke hitting second, depending on who plays that day.

Cooper likes Pence's speed and on-base percentage, and while the center fielder doesn't walk a lot, Cooper sees him as a nice threat at the top of the order.

Cooper compared Pence to Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

"Same type of hitter," Cooper said. "Very aggressive, he swings the bat. I told Hunter, 'I don't want you to change.' Hunter's very aggressive. He sees something he likes, he swings at it. I want him to stay that way. He doesn't have to walk, as long as he swings the bat well."

Memento: Cooper has several game balls from momentous occasions in his career, but the ball from his first managerial win on Wednesday ranks up there with the best of memories.

Cooper has the ball from his 200th home run, his 2,000th hit, his 100th RBI and his Milwaukee single-season club record 126th RBI.

"This is pretty high," he said, referring to Wednesday's game ball. "In my career, I always wanted to play for the Astros at some point and never got a chance to. I got a chance to coach and now manage, so it's pretty special."

Roster move: Following Thursday's game, the Astros activated right-hander Chris Sampson from the 15-day disabled list and outrighted right-hander Travis Driskill to Triple-A Round Rock. Coming up: The Astros will travel to Chicago to begin a three-city road trip, beginning with an afternoon game on Friday at Wrigley Field. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (7-12, 4.67) will face Cubs lefty Sean Marshall (7-6, 4.04).

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