Notes: Lane, Palmeiro to split time

Notes: Lane, Palmeiro to split time

HOUSTON -- A struggling Jason Lane and a surging Orlando Palmeiro are going to split playing time in right field in the immediate future, Houston Astros manager Phil Garner decided on Wednesday.

After hitting .295 in April, Lane's production has dropped off dramatically. Through Tuesday's game with the Diamondbacks, he was hitting .128 (6-for-47) with one homer and two RBIs in May.

Palmeiro is hitting .316 overall (12-for-38) and .375 (9-for-24) in May, and considering the Astros' collective offensive struggles, Garner needs his bat in the lineup on a more consistent basis.

"Palmeiro is doing such a good job and he needs to play a little bit more," Garner said. "Jason's not in his groove yet. I'll mix and match them a little bit more. Meaning what? Am I going to play Palmeiro three days in a row and Jason one? Maybe not. Maybe Palmeiro a day or two and Jason a day or two."

Garner said this won't be a straight platoon, because he views those situations as using the left-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers and right-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers. That won't be the case with Palmeiro and Lane, considering Lane is hitting .302 against righties this year.

"This is not a true platoon," Garner said. "This is a sharing the job right now."

Lane, who took extra batting practice on Wednesday, understood Garner's decision.

"It's what happens when you're struggling a little bit," he said. "I'd like to be in there every day, but Orlando's doing well and I haven't had the same results.

"I've been feeling pretty good. I've had good at-bats the last two series, just not much to show for it results-wise. But I think I'm putting together better at-bats. I just have to work on building on that."

Bagwell surgery: Jeff Bagwell is aiming for June 3 to have surgery on his right shoulder, but as of Wednesday, that date was tentative. Dr. Richard Hawkins, the surgeon who is going to perform the procedure in Spartanburg, S.C., is in Europe on vacation through June 1.

"They haven't called back to confirm, but [June 3] is what we're looking at," Bagwell said.

Good times for the Gambler: The Astros will face Rangers lefty Kenny Rogers in the Lone Star Series opener on Friday. The 40-year-old Rogers will bring to the mound a personal 30-inning scoreless streak.

Eternal optimist Garner sees this as a good thing for his offensively challenged club.

"We're just about ready to bust loose," said the skipper. "Looks like a good combination."

Hometown proud: Not long ago, Lance Berkman approached Brad Lidge and said, "I asked Morgan [Ensberg] who's worse -- me about Texas, [Chris] Burke about Tennessee or Lidge about high school? Morgan said I wasn't even in the running."

Apparently, Lidge has quite an affinity for his old stomping grounds, Cherry Creek High School, in his hometown of Englewood, Colo. So deep is his loyalty that according to some, it trumps Berkman's self-proclaimed obsession with the state of Texas, and Burke's pride in the state of Tennessee, where he attended college.

   Brad Lidge  /   P
Born: 12/23/76
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Lidge's pride is merited. His high school was recently ranked by Sports Illustrated as the No. 5 high school athletic program in the nation.

Berkman, born and raised in New Braunfels, an alum of local Rice University and current resident of Houston, has made it clear that he will never live outside of the state of Texas for any reason. He doesn't even like leaving the state lines for a vacation.

Lidge lives in Colorado during the offseason and looks back fondly at his high school years. He senior year, the Cherry Creek baseball, football and basketball teams all won the state championship.

"I'm permanently stuck in 1995," he said. "I have not been able to move on."

Ensberg had to fess up and admit that overall, Berkman and Burke's state pride may outweigh Lidge's affinity for his old high school. But Lidge was definitely more vocal for a stretch of days after the SI piece hit the newsstands.

"Lidge was the most obnoxious for sure last week," Ensberg said. "I mean, he was talking about his class president. It was out of control."

"I try to let people know I'm proud of my high school, and apparently, I get blasted for it," Lidge said.

Coming up:The Astros and Diamondbacks will conclude their three-game set on Thursday beginning at 7:05 p.m. CT. Roger Clemens (2-1, 1.10) will face left-hander Brad Halsey (2-2, 3.88). The Astros then travel to Arlington this weekend for a three-game Interleague set with the Texas Rangers. The series is part of a three-city, nine-game road trip that includes stops in Chicago and Milwaukee.

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