The Houston Astros are hoping Jeff Bagwell’s return from the disabled list can help keep them atop the National League wild-card race when they face the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle game of their series at Miller Park.
Houston activated Bagwell from the 15-day disabled list Friday, just before the team’s 7-4 defeat. Despite the loss, the Astros remained a half-game ahead of Florida in the wild-card race.
“I really pushed myself to come back as quick as I could, so I could help,” Bagwell said. “We are in a pennant race.”
The 37-year-old first baseman was placed on the DL with a right shoulder sprain, retroactive to May 4. He underwent successful capsular release surgery on his right shoulder on June 7. Several small bone chips were also removed from the area.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m all the way back,” he said after missing 115 games. “I’m just pinch-hitting. I feel that I’m capable of doing that and giving Gar (manager Phil Garner) an option here or there.
“Am I at full strength? No chance, but I think I’d be good enough where I could help.”
He couldn’t help on Friday, as he struck out looking with a runner on second base as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning.
Garner said Bagwell will serve only as a pinch-hitter the rest of the season, providing a small boost to an offense that ranked as second-worst in the National League in batting average (.255) and hits (1,197) and 14th in RBIs (556) entering play Friday.
Though they are all but assured of missing the postseason for the 23rd straight year, Milwaukee is making progress, and could post its first winning season since 1992, when it finished 92-70.
Knocking the division rival Astros out of the wild-card lead would be satisfying as well.
On Friday, Milwaukee forced Houston ace Roger Clemens to the showers after just three innings—his shortest outing in more than a year.
The Brewers’ 70 victories are their most since finishing 73-89 in 2000.
“We’ve got a tough road ahead of us, but we’ve played good against guys like that,” Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay said. “We owe Oswalt a beating.”